Ryan Williams charged into the 2012 football season with every intention of beating out quarterback Stephen Morris for the starting job at the University of Miami.
He heads into 2013 with every intention of being a stellar backup.
Behind Williams as the Hurricanes head into Day 6 of fall camp: 6-3, 224-pound redshirt freshman Gray Crow and 6-3, 200-pound, nationally heralded freshman Kevin Olsen.
“It feels like I’ve been here for a lifetime,’’ said Williams, 21, minutes before jogging onto the practice field earlier this week. “Memphis feels like it was high school.
Never miss a local story.
“The football season is long, so we’re always working. But it’s fun and I love it. I prepare every day like I’m going to play. Whether or not the time comes, I’ll be ready.”
Williams, 6-6 and a sturdy 228 pounds, is a redshirt junior who sat out in 2011 after transferring from Memphis. His family lives in Pembroke Pines and he played for Miramar High his senior year after transferring from Plantation American Heritage. He led the Patriots to a state title in 2009, completing 18 of 21 passes for 254 yards and a state-record five touchdowns in the championship game.
As a freshman at Memphis, Williams replaced Cannon Smith (a former Hurricane), who sustained a concussion in the second game of the season. Williams came off the bench and completed 18 of 25 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns against East Carolina. He started every game afterward but was sacked 30 times.
His numbers at Memphis: 165 of 290 for 2,075 yards and 13 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
Williams has played sparingly at Miami, but with impressive accuracy. In five games last season, he completed 15 of 20 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.
He said he has no regrets about transferring.
“I’ve improved so much,’’ Williams said. “You always want to play, but Stephen did a great job last season, so I can’t complain about that. We’re really good friends and there has never been envy toward him. I learn from him, and try to help the younger guys learn.’’
UM coach Al Golden said Wednesday that Williams, who took the first-team reps in practice to give Morris’ arm a rest, “is smart.’’
“What he’s doing now much better than he did last year is standing in the pocket and throwing with velocity,” the coach said. “He sees it well now and he’s distributing the football, letting the guys make plays for him.”
Williams is a huge fan of new offensive coordinator James Coley, who is equally enthusiastic about the backup.
“I love Coach Coley,” Williams said. “Just a great coach, really player oriented. He knows how to get us motivated, knows how to get his point across.
“He makes sure we don’t have any questions when we go on the field.”
Said Coley of Williams and Morris: “There’s a mutual respect. I don’t think there’s frustration. What I love about Ryan [is] he is finding out ways he can do things that are better than others. He can really get into the audibles and checks very fast. Stephen can as well, but [Ryan] is very headsy with that.”
When Morris sprained his ankle last October, Williams was slated to start against Florida State. Williams didn’t know for sure until game day that Morris would step in to start at the last moment.
“That’s our biggest game and I thought I’d play,” Williams said. “But I wasn’t mad or upset, just a little disappointed.”
Next year, he’ll be at it again, battling with other contenders and top recruit Olsen, whose status for this season has yet to be revealed. Olsen could redshirt – or play.
“It doesn’t change anything,” Williams said. “They bring in people every year. That’s why you play at Miami. You can’t be scared of anyone coming in.”