Receivers vow to take pressure off new QB
Williams, Brown also star in track this spring at PSU
Portland State receivers Jay Williams and Ryan Brown are getting some winning experience this spring Ñ and not just in football practice.
Williams and Brown are standouts on the Vikings' track and field team. Williams is a school record-holder in the hurdles, and Brown could win a Big Sky Conference title in at least one field event.
It's enough to make them reconsider which sport comes first Ñ except no one in football does that.
'I'm a football player,' Williams says. 'When spring drills are done, I'll get ready for the Big Sky track meet. But after that, I'm all football.'
Williams and Brown hope to be part of a dangerous passing game when the Vikings open Sept. 4 at PGE Park against Texas A&M-Kingsville.
'I'm ready to prove I can do the job,' Brown says.
PSU's receivers will have to take pressure off a vaunted rushing attack that features junior Ryan Fuqua, a 1,000-yard rusher in his first two seasons, and help the new quarterback, junior Joe Wiser.
Last year, the Vikings finished last in the Big Sky in scoring, with 236 points in 11 games. They were last in passing offense at 200 yards per game, with 13 touchdowns. But with Williams, Brown, DeOnte Taylor and Amad Robinson as the core of the receiving corps, PSU coach Tim Walsh is hopeful the Vikings can be as productive as they were in 2001, when they averaged 290 yards through the air.
'We think we have an explosive group that's going to perform like some of the strong groups we've had here in the past,' Walsh says. 'They've done a great job of working in the weight room and getting ready for the season. And we've got guys with explosive speed.'
Williams, who will be a senior, set the PSU record in the 55-meter hurdles (7.81 seconds) during the indoor season and has the 110 high hurdles record (14.68) outdoors. He also maxed out at 330 pounds on a recent bench press test and has a 36-inch vertical leap, numbers he hopes will impress some pro scouts.
'And I know the entire playbook, and I'm a captain,' he says. 'Now it's time to show what I can do on the field and then take a shot at the pro game.'
The 6-3 Williams caught 12 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns last season, a total that former PSU star Terry Charles could top in one game.
'We had a lot of times last year when we'd break open, but we'd just let the defensive back catch up to us,' Williams says. 'We've been working on being more explosive off our breaks, changing direction and things like getting into the touchdown lanes.
'I'm hoping to play the role that Terry Charles did, but I'm not going to judge myself against him. I just want to be productive and help the team win games.'
Taylor, a 5-10 senior, caught 10 passes for 191 yards and one TD. Robinson, a 6-foot senior, had two receptions for 34 yards.
Walsh hopes that Williams and Brown will use their physical abilities to rip passes away from defenders and make Wiser look good.
Brown, a 6-2 junior, already has experience making Wiser look good. Both played at Tigard High. Brown, who won the long jump during the Big Sky indoor meet and is the school's top high jumper and triple jumper, spent two years at Western Oregon before transferring to PSU last year.
'Joe's gotten stronger, and his release is quicker, but you can probably tell that we've played together before,' Brown says. 'And, as a receiving corps, we're all on the same page, and our coaches are doing a great job of getting us to be more physical.'