Bears

H-F's Williams: Basketball or football?

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H-F's Williams: Basketball or football?

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
Posted: 11:55 a.m.

By Taylor BellCSNChicago.com
It is generally agreed that it is virtually impossible for a blue-chip athlete to compete in football and basketball at a major Division I college due to the overlapping seasons and the demands of both high-profile sports.

Can you name one?

The short but distinguished list includes two Heisman Trophy winners: Terry Baker of Oregon State in 1962 and Charlie Ward of Florida State in 1993. It also includes two Olympians: Charlie Hoag of Oak Park and Kansas in 1952 and Quinn Buckner of Thornridge and Indiana in 197; also Jesse Arnelle of Penn State in 1954 and Matt Trannon of Michigan State in 2007.

Anyone else?

Tim Williams hopes to beat the odds.

Williams, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound senior at Homewood-Flossmoor, is a quarterback in a spread offense whom coach Craig Buzea predicts "has the ability to be another Cam Newton." Last season, he passed for 2,116 yards and 21 touchdowns for a team that went from 1-8 to a 10-3 state semifinalist. But due to lack of exposure, he has no scholarship offers.

In basketball, Williams is rated as the No. 7 prospect in Illinois' class of 2012, according to one scouting service. Last season, he averaged 12 points and six rebounds for a 23-5 Class 4-A sectional semifinalist. He is being recruited as a small forward. He has 10 scholarship offers, including Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Indiana State and Drake.

"It bothers me that I don't have any offers in football," Williams said.

"I understand that I haven't gone to camps and haven't got much exposure. Until this year, I was concentrating mostly on basketball. My choice? I wouldn't want to give up either sport. I would like to play both sports at the highest level I can. I love them both. It would be hard to choose one over the other."

Credit Buzea for stirring Williams' interest in football. He coached at Portage, (Ind.) for 14 years, then moved to Michigan City, Ind. for three years before being hired last year to rejuvenate the H-F program. He went 10-3 last season and is just beginning to use his entire playbook.

"I was ready for a change," said Bueza, a native of Griffith, Ind. "Illinois football had intrigued me with its playoff situation. I wanted to broaden my horizons."

"I was familiar with the H-F program. In 1994, my first year at Portage, we went to the state title game in Indiana, the same year that H-F won the state title in Illinois. I was intrigued by H-F's talent pool and its potential. I knew they could turn it around."

Williams was impressed. All of a sudden, thanks to Buzea, football was fun again.

"He changed our attitude, our approach to new things, more discipline, more punctuality, more team concept," Williams said. "He talked to me. He said he liked what he saw on film. He ran the same type of offense, the same plays. Everybody started to feel good about football again."

H-F, ranked No. 6 in the Chicago area, crushed Senn 76-6 in its opener, then trounced Deerfield 47-0 last Friday. The Vikings play at Lincoln-Way Central on Friday night in a Southwest Suburban Blue matchup. Against Deerfield, Williams completed 11 of 15 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns in the first half.

"He is a football player," Buzea said. "He is not as smooth as pure passers but he is as accurate as any thrower I've been around. The game moves in slow motion for him. He understands the game. He makes all the throws. His upside is tremendous.

Because he has played so much basketball in the summer, he has barely touched the surface of what he can do in football. He is more serious about football than he was a year ago."

Because Williams is concentrating on leading his football team to the state championship, he said the recruiting process will resume after the season. He wants to re-evaluate his stature after the football season, to see if he has any offers. Then he will arrange for campus visits. Duke and UCLA in basketball and Miami (Fla.) in football have always been his favorites.

He hopes they will invite him to make a visit.

"I used to think I was better in basketball," Williams said. "But after last year, I realized I have talent in football. Now I take both sports more seriously. Some say I am a basketball player but when they come to a football game, they think I'm a football player."

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

The Chicago Bears selected inside linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft with the expectation that he'll become an immediate starter and impact player on defense. But, was there a need at inside linebacker?

According to Pro Football Focus, Nick Kwiatkoski, who Chicago selected in the fourth round of 2016's draft, was a standout performer last season. He ranked third in the NFL among inside linebackers in run-stop percentage and was fourth-best in pass-rush productivity.

Kwiatkoski also wasn’t tagged for a missed tackle against the run all season. He still has to share time on the field with Danny Trevathan and newly-drafted Roquan Smith, but should be able to capitalize on a great sophomore year after being drafted in the fourth round from West Virginia in 2016. Overall, Kwiatoski was graded as the NFL’s 12th best inside linebacker, higher than both Spaight and Hitchens.

His 21.0 pass-rush productivity ranked fourth and came on the heels of his rookie season in which he ranked 10th in the same category in 2016.

Kwiatkoski didn't receive much fanfare last season but the analytics speak for themselves. He started six games (appeared in 11) and registered career highs in tackles (34) and sacks (two). He's an ascending player but his growth is likely to be stunted by Smith's presence. 

Chicago could view Kwiatkoski as the heir to Danny Trevathan's starting job. The Bears can move on from Trevathan with little consequence at season's end. His dead cap number drops to just $1.25 million in 2019. Kwiatkoski will be in the final year of his contract that season (2019), and if he hasn't earned a starting job by then, he's a near lock to sign elsewhere when his rookie contract expires. 

Kwiatkoski has proven he can produce when given a chance to play, something 31 other teams have certainly taken notice of.

Pro Football Focus: Bears rank near bottom-third of NFL in pass protection

Pro Football Focus: Bears rank near bottom-third of NFL in pass protection

If the Chicago Bears want to make a real run at the playoffs in 2018, the offensive line will have to do its part by keeping QB Mitch Trubisky upright. The offense is expected to be more pass-heavy under coach Matt Nagy and will depend on Trubisky having time in the pocket to go through his progressions and find the open target.

New offensive line coach Harry Hiestand should help that cause. He's universally praised as one of the best offensive line coaches in the sport and will be charged with getting a better effort from a unit that ended last season ranked in the bottom-third of pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus.

19. CHICAGO BEARS

2017 pass-blocking efficiency: 77.9

Best individual PBE: Josh Sitton, 97.4

Because of several crippling injuries, nine different players saw at least 100 pass-block snaps for the Bears in 2017. They gave up 152 pressures on 536 passing plays. The top performance came from left tackle Charles Leno Jr., who enjoyed the best season of his career and allowed just 24 pressures all season. Heading into the 2018 campaign, rookie guard James Daniels is penciled in to fill the shoes of the recently departed pass-blocking star Josh Sitton. Daniels performed well in pass protection during his final college season, allowing just 10 pressures on 371 pass-blocking snaps at Iowa.

The Bears will be without last season's top pass-protector, Josh Sitton, who was let go by GM Ryan Pace this offseason and signed with the Dolphins. 

Pass protection was once all about the play of the offensive tackles, but with the NFL's interior defensive linemen evolving into disruptive forces up the middle, guard play will be nearly as important. A healthy Kyle Long is critical. Chicago can't afford growing pains from James Daniels, either. Cody Whitehair returns to full-time center duties, a role he excelled at during his rookie season. 

Charles Leno should provide reliable play at left tackle. Bobby Massie remains a wildcard, but with little depth behind him, the Bears can do nothing more than hope his bad reps are limited in 2018.

With Hiestand in the fold and a healthy Long ready to compete at a high level again, the Bears' offensive line should be much improved this season.