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August 8, 2013

Williams happy to be back in camp

Marquise Williams has already logged a full week's hours more with North Carolina in training camp than he did with the team this spring.

The feat isn't notable because of the hours Williams put in before summer with the Tar Heels, but rather because of those he didn't. For the redshirt sophomore, the second semester of the 2012-2013 academic year was time off from UNC.

But now that he's back, the effort he put in without his teammates is something that he hope will pay dividends for them in the fall as he competes with freshman Mitch Trubisky for the secondary sport behind senior veteran Bryn Renner.

"He's a good quarterback and I respect him," "It's a job and (compete) is what we have to do. There's only one quarterback and we're going to compete, that's all we can do."

Treating the competition and responsibility like a job is evidence to the focus Williams said he developed in his months off.

The primary focus for the 20-year old was developing maturity both on the field and off it, while striving to be "a better man," he said, with an understanding that mistakes happen but that they are rectified when moved past with dignity and improvement.

"I just went through a little bit of adversity but I put that past me and I'm moving forward," he said. "I'm out here in this training camp, having a good training camp and I'm becoming more mature and being more focused. That's one thing I did focus on this year when I went through my adversity is being a more mature guy than when I went through my adversity."

Williams spent the extra time to travel to different football camps in different states and put in time daily maintaining his fitness with a focus on the North Carolina playbook.

"It actually helped me a lot," he said. "I focused on myself and I just had to do what I had to do to be ready for this training camp and I'm ready right now."

Part of that readiness comes from a tool that Williams still uses from his months away from UNC and the football program.

"Over the break, Marquise put in more mental effort than physical because that's all this offense is - (it's) real mental and real hard to understand - especially for a quarterback," junior tight-end Eric Ebron said.

"He has a notebook full of pages where he writes plays over and over, and over and over and he's matured as a person a lot but he still has his fun side with him which is great."

The "fun side," that Ebron recognizes in Williams is a quality that Williams himself sees in Renner, who is his training camp roommate - it's something that head coach Larry Fedora and quarterbacks coach Blake Anderson encourage in their throwers, an upbeat personality that matches the on-field style of the fast offense.

"That's what I've noticed more about Bryn being back in the training camp, he's more mature - more-more mature, as he's always been (mature)," Williams said.

"But he also is smiling about things more because that's something that we just have to do as a team."

The phrase, "Have a great day, have a great attitude," is on a sign hanging in the Tar Heels' quarterback room as a reminder of the effect mentality has on the team's play.
The encouraged attitude is something that Williams also hopes will fill a hole and support presence left by one of UNC's most recently departed alumni.

"That's one thing about Jonathan Cooper is he brought attitude and he was just always smiling and that's one thing that we're learning everyday in the quarterback room," Williams said.

"When something's not great, you have to still move on because everyone is looking on you as a quarterback, so we try to stay with a great attitude."

Through a week of camp, that attitude and "fun side," is something that Ebron is glad to see and hopes will continue to spread from the quarterbacks through the team.

"We all thrive off of it, we all need it, everybody needs it," he said. "It's only like day seven and everybody needs energy now. It's good, energy is good, everybody thrives off of it."

But even with the positive energy, Williams and his teammates will face teams aggressively this season, knowing that their end goal is a league title and a record that reflects comfort and mastery of Fedora's fast spread offense.

"We're going to go to war with any team -ACC, SEC … that's how I feel," Williams said. "So I feel great about this team."

"I feel great about (South Carolina). There's a lot of talk, they've got big Jadeveon Clowney, I played against him in high school, they're a great team but we're focused on us and we're going to do what we've got to do."

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