September 11, 2012

The humble big man on campus

More news about: Elmhurst
Scottie Williams has had plenty of success on the field and off.
Elmhurst athletics photo

Elmhurst offensive tackle Charlie Homoky said when he walks to class, a lot of his classmates smile, say “hi” and wish him well. Homoky admits that’s not usually because he stands 6-3 or a four-year starter on the Bluejays football team, but because he’s walking with one his best friends – running back Scottie Williams.

“They all know who he is and they don’t know me, but that’s okay,” said Homoky with a laugh. “He’s definitely one of the most popular people on campus. He one of the most humble people I know.”

It’s been hard for Williams to stay out of the spotlight as the featured back in Elmhurst’s offense and on the verge of obliterating most of the schools rushing records – the ones he doesn’t already own. Williams enters Saturday’s game with Chicago with 3,545 career yards and will need 17 yards to break the school record.

He needs eight more rushing touchdowns to break that career record. Williams currently has 34. If he scored 43 more points to go with his 222 career points, he will shatter that record as well. Williams has set Elmhurst single season rushing record the past two seasons. He rushed for 1,220 yards as a sophomore and then broke his own record last year, rushing for 1,374.

There’s no sign that Williams is about to slow down, rushing for 229 yards on 35 carries, including two touchdowns, in Elmhurst’s 31-13 victory over Trine. It was his third 200-yard game of his career.

With all of Williams’ lofty success, not to mention adding Academic All-American recognition after last season, the 5-7, 170-pounder continues to find ways to get better, said his coach Tim Lester.

“He’s the hardest working kid I’ve ever coached and he never ceases to amaze me,” Lester said. “He’s part of my first recruiting class and we were fortunate enough to get him. His work ethic is second to none and his ego is zero. He’s been amazing to coach.”

Lester said Williams’ football talent comes from his willingness to simply work harder than everyone else to be the best he can be. The level-headedness probably comes from growing up the son of a preacher. Williams is the oldest of four, born to Mary and Scottie Williams, Sr., pastor at Chicago’s Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church.

Growing up in the pews of churches in Mississippi and Alabama before arriving to suburban Chicago in 2001 has indelibly shaped his life, the younger Williams said. So has the fishbowl of being the oldest of Pastor Williams’ boys.

“I think growing up in the church helped me greatly,” Williams said. “It’s helped me stay humble, regardless of what people said about me. I know there’s always someone out there working harder than me. When it comes to church, there will always be somebody watching my every move regardless of what I do on the field. I never want to get into the wrong crowd or avoid bad situations.”

Williams has avoided bad situations on the football combining strength, quickness and patience to gain extra yards.

“I could not have asked for a better role model on the field,” Lester said. “At the end of his freshman season, he asked what do I have to do to get better, I told him I wanted get him stronger in his lower half. He came back and had gained 10 pounds pure muscle in his lower legs and started breaking school records.”

Off the field, he is involved with numerous charitable organizations on and off campus, endearing himself to the greater Elmhurst College community. He’s also a full-time role model for his younger brother Josh, who is a freshman on the Elmhurst team. Josh Williams started the season in the running back stable at No. 1-ranked UW-Whitewater before having a change of heart and joining his older brother.

“I’ve always been inspired to follow in his shoes and do the things that he does,” said Josh Williams, who got to share the backfield with his older brother on several plays against Trine last week. “It’s a lot of fun being here with him. It’s great to have that older figure around to help you out when you don’t quite know what’s going on.”

Lester said if he had a knock on Williams – and he admitted he had to look for one – is that he wished he would have become the team’s vocal leader sooner.

“He’s such a shy, blue collar kid who has always led by example,” Lester said. “This year, though, he’s become more vocal. When he speaks, people listen and as coaches we lean on him. We’ve had a great running back class come in and all I’ve had to do is point to Scottie and say ‘that’s the way to work, play and go to class. I want you to watch him,’ We have a new running back coach and he was asking me about drills and I told him ask Scottie what drills does he like.”

Williams said, though, he loves the responsibility and wants to share what he has learned with his teammates. He said he’s lived with that responsibility his whole life.

“I relish the pressure,” Williams said. “It’s something I always welcomed. There’s nothing like having all the pressure on you and if it all goes wrong it’s on your shoulders. It comes with the territory of being the oldest brother.”

One thing that has eluded Williams and Elmhurst is a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin championship. Playing in a conference with nationally ranked North Central, Wheaton and Illinois Wesleyan can make that task just a little difficult. Lester said, though, if Williams and his offensive line have anything to do with it, the Bluejays will be ready to make a move.

Lester and Williams heaped praise on Elmhurst offensive line of Homoky and Adams Smith at tackles, Chris Kirkpatrick at center, and guards Pete Stamos and Adam Conner for paving the way for Williams.

“We have a special group up front this year and it’s going to be interesting to how we play in those big games,” Lester said. “Everybody knows that Scottie’s going to be getting the ball, so we’re looking forward to that challenge.”

Williams said he would like to work in sports marketing and something around athletics after football is over, making good use of his marketing degree. Young brother Josh said just in the short time he’s been on campus, he can tell that Scottie has already helped make Elmhurst a better place.

“I think it’s pretty cool that he’s one person but he’s had this kind of effect on so many people. I’ve never been around anything like that. Now I’m Scottie’s little brother on campus so I’m getting a little bit of what he’s going through. It’s pretty awesome.”

Topsy-turvy CCIW

Division III observers know that anything can happen in the CCIW. But it may be a little bit of a surprise that of the four undefeated teams in the conference, none include No. 13-ranked North Central and No. 19 Wheaton. North Central loss its opener Sept. 1 to Wisconsin-LaCrosse. This past weekend, Wheaton fell to Albion 22-21 after blowing 12-point third quarter lead.

That leaves No. 16 Illinois Wesleyan at 2-0 along with Elmhurst and Millikin while Carthage sits at 1-0. Now that doesn’t mean anything until conference play starts later this month but it could be interesting to see how the early losses affect the conference race and playoff picture.

More superlatives from Illinois College

A week after running back Cecil Brimmage set a single-game rushing record for Illinois College, quarterback Michael Bates did him one better on Saturday, setting a Midwest Conference record for single game passing yardage, 580 to be exact, in a 53-20 victory over Grinnell in its conference opener. Bates, a sophomore, completed 34 of 48 passes (70.1 percent) while tying a school record for touchdown passes with seven.

It was a good thing, but Brimmage was injured early in the game and only carried the ball twice. There has not been an update as of Monday on his condition, but the sports information office said that it may not be serious. Bates turned out to be the team’s leading rusher in the Grinnell game, gaining 66 yards on eight carries.

All of this offense has the Blueboys scoring at a high clip, 52 points per game after two contests. Illinois College is giving up 24 points per game.

A few more superlatives

  • Wisconsin Lutheran wide receiver Josh Stodola caught 12 passes for 203 yards in the Warriors’ 38-14 victory over Olivet on Saturday.
  • Northern Athletics Conference favorite Benedictine bounced back from a loss to Wheaton with a 30-22 victory over North Park, behind 130 yards by running back John Borsellino.
  • Chicago’s Ian Gaines rushed for 163 yards on 26 carries in a 27-26 loss to Concordia-Chicago on Saturday.
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Clyde Hughes

Clyde Hughes has been writing sports at various times over the past 24 years, covering everything from high school, college and sporting events. A native of football-crazed Texas, Hughes works in Indiana and has written for numerous newspapers and magazines.
2003-04 columnist: John Regenfuss

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