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Too small not too bad for Thunder receiver

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Too small is too often how Nick Williams is measured. Whatever shortcomings the Rocklin High School senior might have are not evident, however, when he is playing wide receiver for the Thunder. The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Williams ranks among the state leaders in receptions with 44. He has turned those catches into 606 yards and four touchdowns for Rocklin, which has a bye this week. Williams is averaging nearly nine receptions a game for the Thunder (4-1). The only time he has been held to fewer than eight was against Whitney on Sept. 10, when he had five for 80 yards. His hands were not needed against the Wildcats, not with teammate Brian Macdonald running for 275 yards and four touchdowns in the Thunder’s 48-19 victory. They were a week later. Rocklin trailed Del Campo 10-0 in the fourth quarter until Williams caught two touchdown passes from Jimmy Laughrea. Williams had 10 receptions for 160 yards in the 14-10 victory. “We worked really hard together in the offseason,” Laughrea said. “I can trust him to get open.” Williams paid the price in the offseason in hopes of proving he could become a reliable target. He made the switch to receiver last season after not receiving much action as a reserve safety. “I was waiting for a chance to play,” Williams said. “I just wanted a shot.” Playing time came Williams’ way when head coach Greg Benzel employed a four-receiver formation. Benzel never took Williams’ size – or lack thereof – into consideration in playing the junior. “It doesn’t matter how big you are or how fast you are. Nick knows how to get it done,” Benzel said. “He plays with heart and courage. Nick represents Rocklin football to the fullest.” Opposing defenses are in for a rude awakening, Laughrea said, when they underestimate Williams. The only advantage Williams has when he is matched against a bigger defensive back is running precise routes. He knows where he should be when Laughrea is ready to throw. “As soon as I’m open, the ball’s there,” Williams said. “I know Jimmy will get it to me.” Once the pass arrives, Williams has enough speed to get away from defenders. He is averaging nearly 14 yards a reception. That is a first down when the ball lands in his hands. “People have always told me I’m too small,” he said, “but I don’t care if I’m too small.”