Bielema says Isaiah Williams moving to WR for Illini football squad


Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams (1) in action during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Rutgers on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Piscataway, N.J. Illinois won 23 – 20. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

ST. LOUIS–On April 30, Isaiah Williams was tweeting at Jameson Williams, encouraging the former Cardinal Ritter wide receiver who had decided to transfer from Ohio State but had not yet announced his move to Alabama, to team up with him.

We now know that had Jameson Williams agreed to do it, the two would be in the same position room in Champaign.

Illinois Head Football Coach Bret Bielema confirmed in a Zoom news conference with reporters Tuesday that Isaiah Williams, the four-star quarterback recruited from Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis, will switch to wide receiver moving forward.

Williams tweeted late Tuesday afternoon after Bielema made the news public.

“I can’t stress the value of what he brings as a person,” Bielema told reporters, while also praising Williams’ football IQ and “magnetic energy”. He said that Williams got a handful of practices in at wide receiver after the spring game, and looked forward to seeing Williams use what he’s learned as a quarterback while trying to attack defenses, in his new role.

Williams played in five games and started four at quarterback last fall, completing 41 percent of his passes for 393 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran 63 times for 389 yards and one touchdown, including setting the Illinois single-game rushing record in a win at Rutgers, rushing for 192 yards in his first career start.

Williams has played some wideout for the Illini, catching three passes in his true freshman season in 2019 for nine yards. The highly touted prospect was the headliner in the Class of 2019 for the Illini, ranked 116th nationally according to 247Sports. He chose Illinois ahead of dozens of other Power 5 offers including Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Auburn and more, but most had recruited him as a wide receiver, not quarterback.

Bret Behrens from WCIA-TV contributed information for this report.

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