No one wants to put too much pressure on a college freshman. But Oklahoma signed Mario Williams for a reason.
The same reason Williams chose to play football for the Sooners.
“He’s a ballplayer,” said teammates Jadon Haselwood. “ … Lookin’ real good.”
More than that, Williams has some intangible qualities about him.
“Mario has one of those personalities that is very endearing,” said OU receivers coach Dennis Simmons. “People just gravitate to him. He’s kind of like Baker was.”
The 5-foot-9, 181-pound Williams was the No. 1 slot receiver in the nation last year at Plant City High School in Tampa, FL. His explosiveness, sudden change-of-direction and raw speed make him a highlight just waiting to rewind.
But his confidence and exuberant attitude make him something else altogether.
“He kind of came in like he was comfortable — but in a good way, though,” Haselwood said. “Energetic. He owns up to when he makes a bust or something, but he’ll come back and make a play. And he’s fast. Athletic.”
“Mario,” said quarterback Spencer Rattler, “looks very good.”
Williams likely will line up in the slot for the Sooners this fall, and from there he’ll be able to stretch the field both vertically and horizontally — an incredibly important trait in Lincoln Riley’s offensive attack.
“Not just me, but I think the rest of the staff and some of the current players have seen how explosive he truly is,” said Simmons. “That’s a positive plus.”
Last season, it was Marvin Mims who stretched the field for the Sooners — and he was a freshman. He was unbowed by youth and college inexperience, became a notorious deep threat and emerged as Rattler’s most reliable target.
So Mims knows what he’s looking at when he watched Williams in spring practice, and he’s taken the opportunity to impart some of that knowledge to his new teammate.
“Mario, he’s really quick, explosive,” Mims said. “So, just being able to let him know, you know, ‘Hey, do this, blah, blah, blah, try to run it this way if this happens,’ it’s kind of cool being able to coach other guys up just from the role I had last year to this year.”
And yet, Williams bring so much more than just explosive athletic ability.
“He makes workouts, he makes practice, he makes all of that stuff fun,” Simmons said, “because he’s always going to have a smile on his face. He’s always eager to get everybody excited and going. It’s been a pleasure having him here so far.”