BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Incoming Indiana freshman linebacker Cameron Williams can run the 110-meter high hurdles in as fast as 14.12 seconds and the 100-meter dash in as fast as 11 seconds.
Track and field was another passion for Williams at Andrean High School in Merrillville. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Williams looks to continue to translate that athleticism onto the football field as a pass rusher in the Big Ten.
"Track, that really helped with my quick-burst speed," Williams said. "So I feel like I bring that to the table."
Williams demonstrated his big-play ability on defense in his senior year at Andrean, finishing the season with 17 sacks, 36 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.
A four-star prospect per 24.7.com, Williams said he's spent the first month getting accustomed to the intensity of college workouts.
"It's a new intensity I have to bring every day in the workouts," Williams said. "Everybody is striving to be better. Everyone is striving to be the best in the Big Ten."
Williams began in youth football playing both running back and linebacker.
"I was a pretty tall running back as you can imagine," Williams said. "My dad, mostly, he just wanted me to be safe, and he wanted me to give the hits instead of take them."
Williams said his father also was a big Chicago Bears fan.
"He pointed me to people like Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. The Chicago Bears are the big, that's a very big thing in my family," Williams said. "So, you know, that's who I look to, the legends, to help my game."
How much and where Williams plays in new defensive coordinator Kane Wommack's 4-2-5 scheme remains to be seen. Williams projects as an edge rusher but feels he has gained enough strength to play inside and stop the run if needed.
"Coach Wommack, he sees me in a lot of different spots, and you know, quite frankly, I told him I'm willing to do anything to help the team win," Williams said.
Williams also tries to pattern his game after two other NFL linebackers, Von Miller and Luke Kuechly.
"Luke Kuechly, that's one of the biggest ones because he gets interceptions, and that's one thing I'm trying to emphasize this year is interceptions," Williams said. "I want to be able to track the ball down in the air as well as I can."
As part of an incoming freshman class ranked in the top 40 in most national websites, Williams is looking forward to trying to make an impact and get IU back to a bowl game after two 5-7 seasons.
"I look to change the culture around completely," Williams said. "My class, we call it the new way for a reason, so I look to prove that name. I'm trying to get everybody back on board and hop on the IU train and become a Hoosier."
Freshmen could fill special-team roles
When practices for Indiana fall football camp start next month, it will present an opportunity for a pair of incoming freshman specialists.
David Ellis and Sean Wracher weren't big names in IU's top-40 national 2019 recruiting class. But both could serve important roles on special teams for the Hoosiers next season.
Ellis, a speedy 6-foot receiver from Clinton Township, Mich., will get a chance a win a job returning kicks and punts, while Wracher could take over as long snapper for the departed Dan Godsil, who recently signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ellis returned five kicks (four kickoffs, one punt) for touchdowns in his senior year at Chippewa Valley (Mich.) High School. The longest went for 96 yards. Ellis will vie to win the punt return job vacated by J-Shun Harris III, who returned three punts for TDs in his college career.
"That's big shoes to fill," Ellis said. "You know, he was an excellent return guy."
But Ellis has confidence in his ability and wants to show the coaching staff he can cover kicks as well as return them.
"I can cover kicks, and I can cover punts as well if they needed me to," Ellis said. "So, special teams, I'm kind of a do-it-all guy."
Wracher is considered one of the top long-snapping prospects in the 2019 class, ranked seventh in the nation by 24-7.com analysts. He was also being recruited by Penn State and Syracuse but chose IU based on how well Godsil developed during his career with the Hoosiers.
"It was appealing to me that to have an opportunity to start right away and to get my path going with this program, to move on to the next level," Wracher said.
At 6-4 and 195 pounds, Wracher's goal during the offseason is to get stronger to deal with his blocking responsibilities post snap.
"The biggest aspect for me going forward here is getting my body to a point where that's not going to be an issue come Game 1," Wracher said. "As a snapper, it's definitely tough, but you are blocking for a second or two before you get the punt off. So keeping your technique and your footwork really good is going to make you successful in that area."
Wracher said long snappers throughout the country are a tight-knit fraternity, who often trade film to offer advice on technique. He said the hardest part of being a long snapper is mental, not physical.
"You are doing the same thing over and over again in high-pressure situations, and you've just got to have the mentality you've done this 1,000 times, and it's just another snap," Wracher said. "I think what separates the good guy from the not-so-good guy is the ability to keep the same mindset and keep the same consistency all of the time."
Former IU and current Indiana Pacers standout guard Victor Oladipo return to Bloomington from Aug. 23-25 to host a Fantasy Camp at Assembly Hall.
In a partnership with IU basketball and Adidas, the camp will provide fans an opportunity to spend a weekend in the life of a Hoosiers basketball player. Attendees will have the option to play or coach and will receive instruction from Oladipo, head coach Archie Miller and his staff, former IU basketball greats and other celebrity guests.
More information can be found at VictorOlapidoExperience.com. Oladipo has been rehabbing in Miami since suffering a season-ending injury with the Pacers last January when he tore a tendon in his right knee. Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has not set a timetable on Oladipo's return for next season.