Terry, Williams stepping up for Tigers

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Junior wide receiver Ed Willliams suffered a fractured fibula in the first week of the Fort Hays State University football team's fall camp. For a time, Williams thought his season was over. Chiropractors told Williams he might have to redshirt this fall. Williams missed the first four contests, but remained attentive and helpful in practice and meetings.

"That's what made him the player that he is right now," third-year Tiger coach Chris Brown said.

Junior Michael Terry has played all 2013, but had a shoulder sprain in Week 2 against Washburn University. Terry was "kind of light" on the shoulder in the next two contests before he felt better in FHSU's first victory against William Jewell (Mo.) College in Week 5.

"I can go 100 percent now," Terry said.

Last Saturday, healthy Terry and Williams combined for big games in a 56-14 home victory versus Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University.

"Just being back on the field is a great opportunity, and I thank God everyday for giving me the opportunity to be able to help my team out and do everything that I can," Williams said.

The win set the highest margin of victory under Brown and the most points since a 58-27 win versus Fort Lewis on Oct. 12, 2002. Terry collected 16 tackles and returned a fumble 94 yards en route to his first MIAA Defensive Player of the Week award.

"That means a lot," Terry said. "That's what a lot of people strive for, to get recognized in the conference. MIAA is obviously a pretty good conference, and to be Defensive Player of the Week, that's an honor."

Williams, an NCAA Division I University of Toledo transfer, finished with 17 catches for 220 yards in nine contests last year in his first Tiger season.

Williams worked with sophomore quarterback Treveon Albert throughout the summer. During Williams' absence, Albert told the wideout to keep training and running.

"When you get back into action, you will have that step," Williams said.

This fall, Williams has four catches for 163 yards, the second-most receiving yards on the squad. Two are touchdowns, including a 51-yard pass from Albert last week.

This weekend, the Tigers (3-4, 2-4 MIAA) look for their fourth straight victory at Lincoln (Mo.) University, a longtime struggling program at 1-6, 0-6 MIAA. Fort Hays has not won more than three contests in a row in a year since five straight to end the '04 season.

"Feel like no one can stop us now," Williams said.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Terry, from Angleton, Tex., opened his career with a redshirt season at Division I University of Idaho. Then, Terry played a year at Arizona Western junior college before he came to FHSU before last season. Terry has played defensive end and linebacker before settling in at linebacker. Last season, Terry had 35 tackles, 5.5 for loss, but never had more than six tackles in a game.

Terry is tied for third on the team with 40 tackles and his 16 stops were the most by a FHSU player this season.

"He is starting to feel comfortable in his role on this defense," Brown said. " He needs to continue to play like that, because we know what is there, the potential is there, the explosiveness is there, and just his physique, he looks like a MIAA linebacker, so he needs to start playing at that level."

Terry had eight tackles in the season opener against Emporia State and then six in the next three weeks while he battled the shoulder injury. Terry recorded six stops against William Jewell and four versus Lindenwood (Mo.) University before his breakout game last week. Had Terry scored on the fumble recovery, it would have easily been the longest fumble recovery for a score in Tiger annals.

"He has been kind of banged up throughout the year, and he is starting to get healthy now," Brown said. "When you are healthy, you feel a lot better and you play a lot better."

Williams represents the Tigers' first deep threat since All-American O.J. Murdock in 2010. In his first game against William Jewell, Williams hauled in a 55-yard reception from Albert. The next contest, Williams had a 51-yard TD pass. Last week, Williams started on the left side, got behind the defense in the middle and outraced SBU to the end zone. Williams has told Albert to "not even think" if he sees the wideout in 1-on-1 coverage.

"Throw the ball up, and I am going to do my job after that," Williams said.

At Toledo, the 6-2, 195-pound Williams sometimes lined up in the backfield on scout team. Williams knew he had enough speed to play as a running back, but didn't know against his size versus linebackers. With FHSU, Williams has played some in the backfield for another wrinkle, and has three rushes for 34 yards.

"He is just such a fast kid with great speed and athleticism and can do so many different things for you with the ball, and we just need to find ways to get him the ball more than what we have in the past," Brown said. "We have thrown a couple of deep balls to him there and that just shows the explosiveness."