Even Miles Williams thought he’d get some interesting trash talk thrown his way.
“Surprisingly, I don’t,” said Williams, an undersized starter at tackle for Cal Poly football. “I’m still waiting for that one game where the first play we line up, and the D end looks at me and just laughs. It hasn’t happened yet.”
When Williams won the starting spot at left tackle coming out of fall camp, the redshirt freshman seemed like an odd choice.
It wasn’t just for his lack of experience. At 6 feet, 249 pounds, Williams is about the size of some of the Mustangs linebackers. With all its cut blocks, Cal Poly’s triple-option offense does require plenty of agility, so Mustangs blockers tend not to be the beefiest.
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That said, Williams is still slight.
But what he may lack in strength, Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said, Williams makes up for in athleticism and toughness.
“I’m going to tell you he’s a tough guy,” Walsh said, “and for an offensive lineman, he’s way off the charts athletically.”
Perhaps appropriately, Williams’ dad, James, likens his mindset to a specific lightweight pest. “Like my Dad says, just be the gnat,” Williams said. “The gnat is just that one thing that just keeps getting in front of your face and just won’t move. I just try to stay in front of my guy as long as I can.”
A foot injury to projected starter Matt Fisher opened the door for Williams to start, and he’s received rave reviews since.
Williams was recruited as an offensive lineman but lobbied for a switch to defensive end in the offseason. Coaches tried him out on defense during spring drills but brought Williams back to offense in the fall.
That decision is turning out to be crucial.
In addition to Fisher, the Mustangs also lost guards Ross Berry and Derek Sabo for the season. Nick Enriquez has been playing hurt at guard for a few weeks, and center Stephen Sippel left last week’s game against Montana with an injury before returning to finish the game. Surrounded by all of the instability, Williams and fellow tackle Weston Walker have been the two pillars on an offensive line that continued to improve despite the injuries.
“We’re going to do what we’ve got to do, and guys are going to have to play,” Walsh said. “Whoever’s playing is going to play as hard as they possibly can and give us a chance to win.”