Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

August 20, 2012

NSU to redshirt Cruz Williams in 2012

Cruz Williams turned in the most notable performance during Northeastern State’s spring game in April. The 6-foot-4 wide receiver caught nine passes for nearly 150 yards in his debut in green and white.

However, another spectacle like that from Williams will have to wait an extra 365 days.

The Little Rock, Ark., native was not granted a waiver by the NCAA and will have to redshirt in 2012.

“We were hoping the NCAA rules would allow him to play this fall, but we knew there was a chance he might have to sit,” Northeastern State head coach Kenny Evans said of Williams, who transferred from Louisiana Tech. “Basically, that was the word we finally got. He’s not going to lose any years of eligibility; it’ll just be basically a redshirt year for him.”

Williams was already slotted in as one of two starting wide receivers on a preliminary depth chart released by the RiverHawks at the beginning of fall practice. Now, Montra Nelson will likely move up into Williams’ starting role.

“Montra looks like a defensive lineman out there, and he has huge hands,” Evans said. “He run by almost anyone on the field.”

Fortunately for NSU, wide receiver is likely the deepest spot on the roster heading into the 2012 season. The RiverHawks will still have the services of Jahmai Coleman, Nelson, Jermaine Sherman, Chucky Bryant and Gionni Harris.

“What you’d like to see is one, two or three of those guys step their game up,” Evans said of his receiving core. “And some of them are starting to do that. (Williams sitting out) probably does add some pressure, but good players respond to pressure.”

Still, though, losing Williams’ big-play ability is a loss for the RiverHawks.

“It’s always tough to lose a good football player,” Evans said. “But I feel good about the people we have.”

Evans said the decision to redshirt Williams was one that was always a possibility during the summer months. Even Williams’ teammates were aware of it.

“Basically, we all felt bad for him, because he has a lapse since he’s been able to get out on the field,” Evans said of Williams, who has only logged one year of college football since graduating from high school in 2008.

“We all knew this was possible — or could possibly happen. But at the same time, he has advanced in school, he’s been able to get closer to his degree and he’s not going to lose any years of eligibility. He’s just not going to start right now.”

Williams is expected to reenter the fold once NSU begins spring ball in 2013. Open his return, Williams will be sophomore with three more years of eligibility left.

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