UA's Williams earning recognition with help of punt block

By Craig Degel

Arizona Daily Wildcat

With just under four minutes to play Thursday night and Arizona trailing Georgia Tech 19-14, the Wildcats knew time was running out.

The offense had got them back in the game and the defense kept them in it. But where was the special teams?

Enter Armon Williams.

"I knew that the offense gave us a great opportunity to pull that win off, and the defense did a great job not to give them any yards," Williams said. "It was time for the special teams to step up and make a big play."

Williams swept past the Georgia Tech line and blocked the Yellow Jackets' punt, giving hope to an Arizona team that seemed doomed a second before.

"When I stepped up, I was thinking, 'I've got to get through and block this punt,'" Williams said.

Unfortunately for UA, coming into his junior season, Williams had blocked about as many punts as Venus de Milo.

To the delight of his team and to the some 40,000 fans still in their seats, Williams blocked the punt and then recovered it on the Yellow Jacket 4-yard line to set up the winning touchdown.

Williams and the rest of his special teams brethren may need to come up with even more big plays this week against Illinois.

"It's going to be a defensive battle," Williams said. "The game could be a game of field position. It's our job to fill the holes and make the blocks."

The 6-foot-1-inch, 215-pound Williams was one of Arizona's top recruits in 1992 out of Tempe's Valley Christian High School. After his senior season, Williams was listed No. 23 on Super Prep's West list. He was a jack-of-all trades player that saw time at defensive back, running back, linebacker and quarterback. He had career numbers of1,209 yards passing and 2,291 yards on the ground.

A blood disorder that affected Williams' kidneys kept him out of much of '93, but since that time he has been in good health. But Williams' second love, track, may be what has held him back from more than just special teams recognition.

Williams runs the 110-meter hurdles for the UA track team. In the spring of '94, he placed fourth in his event at the Pacific 10 Conference Championships with a time of 15.40 seconds. His fastest time is 13.87.

The downside to being a track team member is that he has missed spring football practice since he began at Arizona. But all that is about to change.

"I have spoken to coach Tomey," Williams said. "I told him that I would be practicing in the spring."

Now instead of coming into Camp Cochise next year a step or two behind the rest of the team, Williams will be right on top of everything.

Whether he is a step ahead or a step behind probably wouldn't matter for a player with Williams' capabilities.

"He has missed spring ball," Arizona head coach Dick Tomey said. "But I'm sure he will overcome that."

Williams was the top special teams performer in '94, recording 16 unassisted tackles, including two against Oregon. This season, he is listed as the backup to Charlie Camp, a role that suits Williams just fine.

"Whatever their (the coaches') decision, I'll do whatever I can to contribute to the team," Williams said.

It is that team attitude that has made Williams one of the unofficial leaders of the kicking game. The special teams are often known as the "suicide squads" and are made up of emotional guys who like to hit people.

"It's not just myself," Williams said. "If I can influence the guys in any way with my actions and by giving 110 percent than that's good.

"You can't slack off on any given play."

His teammates on the special teams would do good to keep that in mind. After all, slackers don't block punts.

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