As Grambling prepares to begin spring football, quarterback questions loom

Doug Williams came back to Grambling, in part, for the opportunity to coach his son, an emerging talent at quarterback. But that doesn’t mean young D.J. Williams will be handed the job when Grambling begins spring practices on Monday, March 14.

“He’s going to be treated like anybody else,” the elder Williams said. “You’ve got to see if he can play. He’s get to go into spring practice just like all the other guys and compete.”

Over 11 games last year, 2010 starter Andrew Carrothers completed 93-of-170 passes for 1,443 yards, 7 touchdowns and 8 interceptions for Grambling. Danny Reyes also saw extensive action, going 24-of-35 for 417 yards, 3 scores and 3 picks. Wildcat insert Rodale Pippen also attempted one pass. Into that mix steps Williams’ son, a 2010 Tampa Catholic graduate who also had offers from Western Carolina, Southern and Alabama State.

Fans, accumstomed to eye-popping offensive numbers at Grambling, have been calling for a more downfield attack for years. Grambling’s 1,841 passing yards and 12 total passing touchdowns in 2010 pushed the team to No. 7 in the league for yards and No. 8 for scoring. The Tigers’ once-vaunted passing offense, which lead the nation in total offense three times between 2002-05, was No. 9 in the 10-team SWAC in 2009, as well.

“It (the race for starting quarterback) is open,” Williams said. “There is a returning quarterback, but we’ll have a different kind of system. Everybody has to be ready to compete.”

A prep backup, D.J. Williams appeared briefly at wide receiver, but wanted to follow in the footsteps of his famous father, the Heisman finalist and former Super Bowl MVP passer. The younger Williams enrolled to gain needed experience under center at Hargrave Military Academy, and led the program to a perfect 8-0 record while throwing for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns. (As a senior at Tampa Catholic, Williams made four catches for 99 yards and one touchdown.)

“I matured a lot on and off the field at Hargrave,” D.J. Williams said, when he committed to Grambling. ” I think I needed to prove that I could be a starting quarterback.”

Meanwhile, the elder Williams has spent the last days pouring over film, and meeting with the remaining coaches from former coach Rod Broadway’s tenure — defensive coordinator Clifford Yoshida and linebackers coach Andre Robinson. Sammy White, returning after one year away, should also still have some important insights.

Williams had little previous information for evaluation, other than a trip to last year’s Bayou Classic rivalry game against Southern in New Orleans: “I’m not familiar with a lot of them, other than just watching them in the game,” he said. “I was impressed with the offensive line, and there are four of those guys returning. Of course, you lose two stud running backs (record-smashing Frank Warren, and change-of-pace back Cornelius Walker). There’s a lot of work to do.”

Williams said Grambling’s spring game is set for April 9.

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