April 19, 2017

Speedster Ready For High Gear

If Breaking Bad’s Walter White is the most famous person to come out of the Albuquerque, New Mexico area, new Lions wide receiver Chris Williams can certainly make a case for number two.

All you have to look at is his CFL credentials and how far the speedster has come since a suffering a torn ACL and meniscus last October.

After initially expecting to miss the start of training camp, Williams isn’t ruling out suiting up for day one, although he won’t pressure himself to do so.

“There is no reason to rush back and I won’t put a percentage on it but I do feel pretty good right now and expect to be fully ready,” said Williams from his home in suburban Rio Rancho.

“We’ll see how it goes.”

Williams Hero

The New Mexico State grad was on his way to a career year in the nation’s capital: 77 catches, 1246 yards and ten touchdowns until he went down in an October 7th home loss to Saskatchewan.

The REDBLACKS managed to recover and Williams had to watch their once in a lifetime Grey Cup upset victory against Calgary from the sidelines. Seven years in pro football and he couldn’t suit up in the biggest game of his life.

“I was happy to be a part of it. I did sit there in the meetings and spent all the time with them,” explained Williams about Grey Cup week.

“That’s what team sports is all about, being able to spend time with your brothers. I think had we lost it for a second year in a row and I missed the game it obviously would have been way more disappointing.”

Two years after almost becoming a BC Lion in his return from the NFL, Williams is finally in orange, joining an already-impressive crop of receivers.

The three-headed monster of Williams, Emmanuel Arceneaux and Bryan Burnham will no doubt cause fits for any opposing defence. Don’t forget Nick Moore is also rehabbing quite nicely from his own knee injury form 2016.

Ottawa Redblacks' Chris Williams, right, makes a reception before running it for a touchdown as B.C. Lions' Chandler Fenner defends during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday October 1, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Williams had a touchdown reception and 155 yards receiving in a loss at BC Place October 1st. Six days later he suffered his knee injury.

“It’s going to be awesome. We’re all so different,” said the 2011 CFL Most Outstanding Rookie.

“I am going to enjoy picking up pieces of their game and what makes them so special. I’ll be embracing the grind and going to battle with these guys. You have to do that.”

There was also the familiarity with Khari Jones and Marcel Bellefuielle being there. Obviously having coach Wally and the legend that he is helped and it seems the time is right there.”

Bellefuille and Jones served as head coach and offensive co-coordinator respectively when Williams first migrated north to Hamilton in 2011.

The two veteran coaches haven’t stopped smiling at the prospect of certain schemes and packages they will be able to run with Williams in the fold.

“I am very excited,” said Jones the week Williams signed.

Williams“Chris still is pretty explosive. He is a great person to have on your team because you can do a lot of things with him.

He’s not only an explosive receiver, but also a good route runner and has turned into a good leader. He’s just everything you want in a receiver.”

Along with rehab, Williams is focused on family time before he embarks on Kamloops in just over one month’s time. He just bought a brand new house in Rio Rancho for his wife and three young children.

You have to commend any individual who can juggle time between that young a family and learning a whole a new playbook. Given what he has been through the past six months, no challenge will seem too daunting for the
speedy wide receiver.

“I am in a good spot mentally. I never got too discouraged when the injury happened and I am just ready to grind it out.”

Having the opportunity to win his first Grey Cup in shoulder pads and a helmet do doubt allows him to stay committed to the task at hand.

“They beat us twice last year so that speaks to the talent they have,” said Williams.

“I look forward to accomplishing the same thing (as last year). Getting to the Grey Cup and winning.”

New Mexico may soon have a new favourite son indeed.