Riders’ Williams following in Durant’s footsteps

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June 14, 2017 - 4:41pm
Marquise Williams prepares to through the ball during a Roughriders scrimmage on June 13, 2016.
Chris Carr/650 CKOM
Marquise Williams prepares to through the ball during a Roughriders scrimmage on June 13, 2016.

For the second time in his football career, Marquise Williams is following in the footsteps of Darian Durant.

Williams played his college career at the University of North Carolina, the same school former Roughrider quarterback Darian Durant played.

The two did not overlap their playing days, but they still knew each other.

“Once you’re a Carolina Tar Heel you always follow the Tar Heels everywhere,” Williams said. “Doesn’t matter where you go, Canada, Mexico, you always follow your family.”

“I knew Darian Durant played here, I knew he did some good things.”

Durant, too, had been following Williams’ progress at his alma matter. Watching helplessly as Williams smashed record after record Durant had set during his playing days.

Williams currently holds several records with the Tar Heels including career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (35), career rushing yards by a quarterback (2,458) and career total offence (10,423). Williams also scored more touchdowns than any other player in school history (99).

“I think he held 27 (records) and I got 32 of them, so it was a fun time,” Williams laughed.

Now, Williams said he’d love the opportunity to break more of Durant’s records, this time in the green and white.

“I was actually texting him the day I was travelling … and I was like ‘it’s time to break more of your records if I get the opportunity to.’”

“Of course he’s nervous because he saw it happen before,” Williams laughed. “But that’s the one thing, me and him, that’s like my big brother and I’m his little brother. He’s a great guy and I’m just trying to learn from somebody who has done some good things around here.”

But first Williams will have to work his way up the depth chart. Kevin Glenn is all but assured as the everyday starter for the Roughriders. The team also has Brandon Bridge, Bryan Bennett and an injured Vince Young as possibilities behind centre.

No one can say that Williams hasn’t put in the work though. After practice, and sometimes well into the evening, he can be seen out on the grass or on the field in Saskatoon calling plays, directing invisible receivers and working hard to catch up on the time he missed by coming into camp late.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“He’s a guy that takes his job very seriously,” head coach Chris Jones said earlier this week. “He’s out here by himself late in the evening going through the play calls. I don’t know how many of y’all seen that but it’s impressive for a quarterback or for any guy for that matter to … go out there and put in extra work.”

Williams isn’t doing it for the praise, however, he said it’s something he’s always done.

“I’m just trying to learn the basics of the game and the basics of the offence. It was tough at first but once you start studying and hone in on what you need to do … it comes easy to you.”

“He’s a guy that can have a very successful career in this league given the right situation and the right opportunities,” said Glenn.

Williams also has the benefit of being able to work under quarterbacks’ coach and former CFL QB Jarious Jackson. Glenn said having a coach that at one time played behind centre was something that helped him develop when he was new to the CFL.

“With a guy like (Jackson) early on in your ear, it makes for having success later on.”

On Friday, fans should expect to see a little more of Williams than they did during the first preseason game, something he’s excited for.

“(It’s) just (a chance to) go out and showcase what I can do and what I’ve learned.”

And maybe, just maybe, start to inch a little closer to those Durant records.