LAFAYETTE — The lone explosive play the UL-Lafayette offense had in its spring game came from a player who would otherwise be getting ready for his senior prom.
True freshman running back Walter Williams, an early enrollee, blew by the defense for a 66-yard score in the second quarter, showing every bit of the athletic ability that made the Cajuns pursue him.
“He’s a little bit bigger than (Alonzo Harris) was as a true freshman,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “And this kid should still be in high school math class in Van Cleave, Mississippi. Him enrolling early really set him ahead of where he would be if he didn’t come in earlier.”
He also showed his youth, getting the ball knocked out of his hands by linebacker T.J. Posey in the first quarter, resulting in a 60-yard scoop and score by linebacker Darzil Washington.
Those two plays were representative of the up-and-down camp Williams experienced this spring.
“He’s got to learn the game,” Hudspeth said. “The game’s moving pretty fast. He’s got some physical skills. That’s obvious. He’s also got good size, he’s very long and he’s got great speed. He’s just got to learn the game, learn his playbook, learn his protections — things he didn’t really have to do in high school.”
Williams finished with a game-high 65 yards on six carries, which in itself was impressive to quarterback Brooks Haack, who couldn’t imagine competing against some players who are five years his senior.
“I couldn’t even imagine being 17 (years old) out here facing these guys,” Haack said. “I’m 21, and it’s tough facing them. Those little mistakes are going to happen. It’s part of the game, but you’re going to grow up and get better. But that long run he had, he’s a very explosive guy. He’s a great complement to what we have … I’m really looking forward to seeing how he progresses.”
Most improved awards
Offensive tackle D’Aquin Withrow, defensive lineman Karmichael Dunbar and kicker Dylan Scheurich were recognized at halftime for being the most improved players of spring camp.
Withrow, who is pushing for a starting spot at either tackle spot, was named the offense’s most improved player, Dunbar earned the same award for the defense and Scheurich was named the most improved non-scholarship player.
Scheurich had the most noticeable impact Saturday, when he connected on a 47-yard field goal at the end of the scrimmage. It was his first such attempt in front of a live crowd.
“A live, real rep is really adrenaline,” Scheurich said. “You say kickers don’t really get adrenaline, but we do, especially for me coming out my first time. It felt awesome.”
Race for the cash
In the second half, the Cajuns staged a 50-yard race between six students and wide receiver Devin Scott —regarded as the fastest player on the Cajuns roster. On the line was a free semester of tuition.
If Scott lost? “We’ll take away his scholarship,” joked director of football operations Troy Wingerter over the stadium speakers.
It wasn’t close. Hudspeth gave the students a 5-yard head start on Scott, but Scott won by a wide margin.
It wasn’t exactly a fair race, but even with the loss, Hudspeth split the tuition award with the top male and female finishers and told the other four students they’d receive $200.
“I really appreciate our student body,” Hudspeth said. “They’ve been really behind us, and we’re trying to get even more people behind us.”
Right guard Donovan Williams left with an injury, but Hudspeth was optimistic he’d be able to work out with the team when it reconvenes Tuesday. … Freshman quarterback Dion Ray didn’t get much playing time and misfired on his lone pass, but Hudspeth said he liked the way he looked on the field.