PINEHURST – The bio for Marquise Williams in the 2015 North Carolina media guide takes up nearly three pages. Since taking over for an injured Bryn Renner at the end of his sophomore season, Williams has a complete resume. In just one season as a full-time starter (2014), the Charlotte native has become the face of the UNC football program.
Williams established 18 school records in 2014 and holds five of the 12 highest single-game total offense performances in school history. Just think, this all coming from a guy who came into the 2014 camp having to fight for starting spot in a highly publicized battle with redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky.
The 6-2, 225 pound Williams won the job and the rest is history. He has become an All-ACC and All-American candidate, as well as a media favorite.
At the ACC Kickoff at Pinehurst last week, Williams (naturally) was one of the players selected to represent North Carolina. When Marquise Williams talks, it’s best to sit back and just let the tape roll as he speaks on the 2015 outlook, opening the season in his hometown and even his bulldog, Bella.
On pressure and expectations for the 2015 season
“It’s another opportunity to go out with guys I love; sacrificed blood, sweat and tears with for the last five years. I’m excited. No pressure at all. We’re returning all the starters on offense, so there is no pressure on me at all. That’s the only thing I can think about, having so many guys around me, so many weapons and I can just give them the ball, nothing on my shoulders.”
On having all five starters return on the offensive line
“They will be the best offensive line in the country this year. There’s no doubt in my mind. I’m excited to play behind those guys.”
On the new look defense
“Those guys look great. They’re probably going to be the heart and soul of our team. Those guys have been playing wonderful in the summer. It’s been hard for the offensive guys to get going (against the defense), but that’s what we expect. They are excited, they want to get better.”
On being a better leader in 2015
“There are different ways to lead a football team. You don’t have to yell and curse at every player. You can pull a player to the side and say, “can you do this better?’” It’s a different way you talk to guys. Some guys can take it, some can’t. It’s just about being more positive … I don’t think I’ve ever been this positive in my life.”
On the season opener versus South Carolina on Sept. 3rd.
“It’s South Carolina on ESPN on a Thursday night, against an SEC opponent. It doesn’t get any bigger than that. I can’t go on ESPN and just fall apart.”
On opening the 2015 season in his hometown of Charlotte
“It’s a blessing. I’m looking at walking into Bank of America Stadium … you never know when your time will be to play in an NFL stadium. I am 1-0 in Bank of America Stadium.”
“I think we have the best set of quarterbacks in the country.”
On attending the Manning Academy, hosted by Eli and Peyton Manning
“It was great. Going out and learning different things … you can always better your game. It was great learning from guys like Cody Kessler (USC), Christian Hackenberg (Penn State), these guys are going to be top draft picks pretty soon. And there is no better feeling than going out and experiencing a workout with Eli and Peyton.”
*Williams sat out spring practice after having hip surgery in January. He told the media he played the entire 2014 season with the injury and is feeling completely healthy for the first time in two seasons.
On being “Coach Marquise” in the spring
“It was good, but you know me, I want to be out there with the guys. But it was also good for me to sit back and relax, and learn more about the game. Knowing why Coach Fedora is calling this pass play against a certain coverage. Knowing why we’re going to run against a three technique or a shade. Knowing things in our offense has helped me out a lot.”
A normal weekend for Marquise
“Usually if I’m not with my teammates, I’m with my English bulldog, Bella. We’re at the dog park, but right now we’re taking swimming classes. Usually just having fun, hanging out with my teammates, or just hanging out with my dog. I thought she would be a lazy dog, that’s why I got her, but she has too much energy for me. I’m trying to get her to calm down a bit. She actually enjoys ‘The Walking Dead’ (Hit TV show on AMC about the zombie apocalypse). Normally when I throw a toy or something, she’ll go get it, but now she just sits right there watches ‘The Walking Dead’ like she knows what’s going on.”
On how players police each other when they’re out on the town
“We take care of each other. If I see a teammate is in a situation with someone, I’ll go get that person. We can’t risk our future over someone who wants to take it, and there are a lot of people on Franklin Street who will try and take a UNC players’ future. We are aware of those (types) so when we go somewhere we are all together and we have each others back.”
On why he is a different leader now
“I’m different because you never know when your last play might be. I’m going to have fun playing this game. I never put myself before anybody. That’s how I was brought up, to stay humble because it can be snatched away from you at any minute.”