This is the fifth in our "Impact Player" series, taking a closer look at some of the state's top returning players as we draw closer to the MIAA football season. To see all of our Impact Players, CLICK HERE.
Whether it's embracing hostile crowds, throwing himself into a fight to defend a teammate, or willing his team to a Super Bowl victory with a badly-injured angle, nobody will deny the fire within Springfield Central quarterback Cody Williams. Rip open his chest, you'll find a heart the size of a volleyball.
With a swagger all unique to his own, few signal-callers combine urban spunk with cool under pressure the way Williams has the last few years. It's the type of attitude that has an amoebic effect, his fearlessness and intensity trickling down to his teammates. Since taking the reigns in Week 2 of the 2011 season, Williams is 20-3 as a starting quarterback; among returning quarterbacks in Massachusetts with at least two years varsity experience, only Reading's Drew Belcher (21-4) has more wins as a starter. In addition to last fall's Division 1 West Super Bowl title, Williams also played on Central's 2012 Division 1 State Championship basketball squad, further cementing that winning attitude.
Now in the newly-aligned MIAA Division 2 West, the Golden Eagles are a favorite to make a deep run in arguably the deepest division in the state championship. The Eagles have the talent, no question -- some say this is their most talented outfit yet of the Valdamar Brower era. Can Williams, their undisputed leader, bring them all the way again?
Player: Cody Williams
School: Springfield Central
Hometown: Springfield, Mass.
Listed Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 175 pounds
Scouts Inc. Rank: 15 - Mass.; 224 - Region; 79 - Position
Considering: Albany, Monmouth, Central Connecticut State
Key 2012 Stat: In 11 games, threw 20 touchdowns to just five interceptions.
Workout Stat: Recorded a 4.57-second 20-yard shuttle time.
Highlight Film: HUDL
Opposing Coaches: "Hes a special kid out here, very competitive. I think his edge, that edginess he has to him, is what separates him from a majority of the quarterbacks in this part of the state this year -- now, and ones that have passed through here in recent years. He's fundamentally sound, great mechanics, good control over the offense, definitely a special football player. ... I think he’s probably a better athlete than people give him credit for -- they don't run him a lot, and for our sake I hope they continue to do that. In all seriousness though, he's very athletic, fast, he's a tough kid. He does everything you need a quarterback to do on the field. He's got everything -- good arm, great touch, he knows the game, he understands it. I think the only thing stopping him from really being a big time quartback as far as his [scholarship] offers is his weight. If he was 200 pounds he'd be looked at differently than he is now -- and he already has quality offers right now, but he'd have more if he added weight. Just a special kid. ... I like his accuracy, and his timing, his command of the offense. He knows where he's gonna have to put the ball, where it needs to be. He doesn't need his receivers to be wide open, because he can throw it into tight windows. He can put the ball wherever he wants, very accurate passer. ... I used to be a quarterback in my semi-pro days, and at a camp this summer me and him had a throwing contest. We set up a sled dummy up in the back of the end zone, and put a can on top of it. He knocked the can off that dummy three times in a row, from 30 yards away, rolling to his left. And not only is he hitting it, but he's talking mess as he's doing it. That's Cody for you."
Scouts Inc.: "Williams has very good height as a pocket passer. His frame will need to fill out but looks to be capable of supporting additional size. Flashes strength as a runner to slip arm tackles. Most likely would not be considered a dual threat but does a good job to escape pressure and create some yards. ... Displays good poise and confidence within the pocket. Is patient and will keep his eyes down field. Will not force the ball much if initial read is covered. Shows the ability to stand in the pocket and make a tough throw with defender in front of him. ... Demonstrates the ability to put the ball where receiver can catch and run. Flashes some touch on intermediate to deep throws. Does not show great zip on the ball but at times will fit it into tight windows. ... Displays adequate-to-good arm strength. Possesses a wind up motion with release but the ball does get out of his hand quick enough. Is more compact in his release on short-range throws."
Bottom Line: A plucky competitor who has won state titles on both the gridiron and the hardwood, Williams will be one of the state's top returning quarterbacks this fall, and for good reason. His throws are tight and on time, he isn't easily flustered in the pocket, and he'll have plenty of athletes to work with on the perimeter -- the most talented of the bunch being his cousin, Ju'uan, who is fielding various Division 2/Division 1 FCS interest. The knack on Williams from scouts has always been his thin frame, but he has filled out some, looking about 10 pounds heavier from the end of last season. It will be interesting to watch how he's progressed headed into this season. We all know he can throw the ball, but as some have hinted here, perhaps there is more athleticism than we generally see at the surface -- he is a guard during basketball season, after all. Could we see him running more? Who knows. What we do know is the kid can put on an aerial show, and he's sure to continue entertaining in 2013. And if the Eagles somehow upset Everett in Week 1, Williams will cement himself as a schoolboy legend.