The Gophers football team was driving to the airport after its win over Indiana last Saturday when redshirt freshman tight end Maxx Williams got a surprise.
The Williams family had been at the game and was on the side of the road waiting for the team bus to pass.
“My dad calls me and goes, ‘Be ready,’” Williams said. “Two minutes later, we hear horns going off, people cheering out the windows of these vans. I was like, ‘Wow.’ I just stood up [and said], ‘Sorry, everyone. It just might be my family.’”
Williams comes from a family of collegiate and professional athletes and has become one of the team’s top targets early in his career. He’s the Gophers’ second-leading receiver this season with 15 receptions for 251 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think he’s an unbelievable player for the age he is,” head coach Jerry Kill said. “His future’s endless.”
Williams played a key role against Indiana on Saturday, catching four passes for 78 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson found Williams streaking down the middle of the field late in the fourth quarter. The 50-yard touchdown pass gave Minnesota a 42-39 lead.
Nelson said having a big, physical tight end like Williams is “a quarterback’s dream.”
“Something that we really like to look for in our offense is trying to get Maxx matched up on a safety or a corner,” Nelson said.
Nelson and the offense have awakened in the last two weeks, scoring a combined 10 touchdowns in wins over Nebraska and Indiana. The offense had scored just three touchdowns in its first three Big Ten games.
Williams said players on the team will occasionally peek at bowl projections, but players are focusing on getting their eighth win this Saturday.
“It’s just another step in making history,” Williams said of Saturday. “Just being a part of that is a great feeling.”
Kill says Gophers don’t tolerate hazing
Kill said on Wednesday he’s aware of the Miami Dolphins-Richie Incognito hazing scandal but indicated he hasn’t had time to process it yet.
“I’m aware of it, but … I’ve got enough issues and so forth, but I’m sure I’ll catch up on all that stuff,” he said. “I do all of that usually on Thursday night and Friday.”
The Miami Dolphins indefinitely suspended Incognito on Sunday for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
Incognito allegedly sent Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin racist and threatening text messages, multiple media outlets have reported. He also allegedly forced Martin to pay for a $15,000 trip to Las Vegas, ESPN reported.
The story has prompted a national debate about hazing in professional football.
Kill said he doesn’t tolerate such behavior.
“We don’t do it here,” he said. “I’ve always been that way — I’ve always been that a freshman comes in, and our job … is to make sure they feel comfortable and get better.
“There may be something I don’t know about, but as a head coach, I’m pretty aware of any of those kinds of things.”