Walk-on impressing others

(Shadow Williams/Arizona Athletics)

Shadow Williams has the title of being a walk-on, but could be much more than that. Read on for his thoughts on camp, how much he will play, and more.

One of the first things Arizona fans learned about new head coach Rich Rodriguez was his admiration for walk-ons. Rodriguez was one himself and respects the work they put in even though this type of player often go unnoticed.

At Arizona, Rodriguez already has several walk-ons in the mix for playing time and they all have a chance to make a big impact in the 2012 campaign.

One player who has forced his way into the rotation with his play during recent practices is linebacker Shadow Williams. The 6-foot, 226-pounder has been impressive in fall camp and has been motivated to prove he belongs.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Williams said. "I'm just going out every day trying to work hard and prove myself. Being a walk-on, I'm trying to show the coaches I can earn a scholarship and do what I have to do."

Not too long ago, Williams was being passed over by schools from reputable conferences and only had programs like Florida Atlantic and North Carolina Central looking in his direction.

Now looking to make an impact in the Pac-12 as a true freshman, Williams has even surprised himself with how far he has already come.

"It does feel pretty good," Williams said. "It's kind of a life changing experience. Being a walk-on, being able to come on and get legitimate playing time and make a big difference as a true freshman is definitely different."

Williams has the fortune of learning from one of the best defensive coordinators in the business in Jeff Casteel. The UA assistant expects a lot from his players, whether they are a scholarship player or not.

"He's pushing us a lot," Williams said. "He definitely puts a lot of pressure on us to get the job done."

As a prospect that didn't garner much interest from major college football programs, Williams didn't believe he could come in and make an impact as a Wildcat this early into his collegiate career.

"I really didn't," Williams said. "I knew I was going to have to work to get up there, but it kind of fell into place really fast. I'm trying to learn quickly. I had no idea I would be contributing so early."

It didn't take long for Williams to realize he had a real chance to make an impact on the field early. Shortly after he arrived on campus, Williams worked his way into the rotation and now realizes he has to stay on top of his game to grow.

"Once we got in here, maybe after, like, the second practice," Williams said. "I saw myself getting a lot of reps with the ones.

"We had a couple of guys go down and coach really put the pressure on me to get the job done and from there I pretty much knew I had to stay on the ball."

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