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Illinois Football: Isaiah Williams primed for Breakout Season



Illinois Football: Isaiah Williams primed for Breakout Season.
Jul 26, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Isaiah Williams speaks to the media during the Big 10 football media day at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Football: Isaiah Williams primed for Breakout Season.

Isaiah Williams was one of the most highly touted recruits to join Illinois Football. Additionally, Williams has one of the more interesting paths to where he is right now. For starters, the St. Louis native was the face of a Trinity Catholic program that was dominating St Louis. Though that was not always the case for the school, Williams was the star of that turnaround as the Quarterback and unquestioned leader. Isaiah had offers to play at any school that he wanted. However, there was a catch. Williams would have to ditch the QB position that made him so prominent at the prep levels to play defensive back or wide receiver.

Illinois Football offered a unique opportunity. Come continue your success as QB. Do it close to home, with your former high school coach who became a father figure to you and under an OC who has had prior success with undersized QB’s. Williams took that offer and fans looked to him to immediately change the trajectory of Illinois Football

Early struggles.

Williams struggled as most freshmen do. However, there were clear red flags. Williams would have minor injuries given his shorter stature and run-heavy skillset. He also did not show an arm that could sustain success in the Big Ten. Though he had success running the ball, Williams clearly showed that his path to starting QB would be an uphill battle. After a coaching change happened that clearly preferred stable, pocket passers, The outlook was bleak.

Bret Bielema, however, gave Isaiah the opportunity to explore his options at different positions on the field. Williams is a smart young man. He was honest with himself and realized that maybe he would be a better fit at a position he could have played at powerhouses like Alabama or Michigan. The St. Louis native made the switch to wide receiver, and has slowly improved each year. After two years at the position and a clear path to a majority of the offensive touches, Isaiah Williams is primed for a breakout season as the go-to man on offense.


The Face of the offense.

Isaiah Williams showed that he can be a reliable force in the open field. He had 82 receptions for 715 yards last season, and those numbers should certainly increase. Chase Brown got a majority of the touches last year, and with Brown now on the Cincinnati Bengals, the task is now on Williams. Isaiah struggled with gaining separation and getting contested long-balls. This limited Illinois in the passing game as they did not have many downfield options. Williams will try to evolve as a deep threat, however he is still a star in the slot.

Jeremy Werner always mentions Wan’dale Robinson as a comparison and I think that is the perfect model for Isaiah Williams to follow. Isaiah is also a lot stronger than most realize, and has shown he is tough to bring down. Due to this, I certainly think he can be used as a valid red zone option on jet sweeps.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.