CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- There was not one particular moment that motivated Keon Williams to change his ways.
Instead, it was every moment the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga running back wasn't playing last year, and there were a lot of those.
"Sitting on that sideline... it didn't feel good," Williams said. "At those moments, those are humbling moments. It made me realize how much I needed to put some effort in."
After finding some early success as a freshman, Williams rushed for just 155 yards last year as a redshirt sophomore. When the Mocs hired a new offensive coordinator and a new running backs coach this season, he made the conscious decision to do whatever was necessary to "shock" them and prove his worth.
He made the conscious decision to up his game in every way with a new offensive coordinator and a new running backs coach coming in,
"They all feel like they're entitled to play. Not just our guys. That's most players throughout the country. It's human nature," said head coach Russ Huesman. "It's all about mine, mine, mine. But right now Keon earns every single carry he gets.
"He's always looked like a big-time back. Now he's running like a big-time back. He's making the right cuts. He's running hard and he's producing."
The physical part has never been a problem for Williams, so the biggest adjustment for the 6-foot, 215-pound bruiser was the mental game.
In addition to increasing his effort and enthusiasm for every aspect of practice, conditioning and academics, the Red Bank graduate has focused far more on game preparation.
"I'm watching a lot more film this year," Williams said. Me and Terrell (Robinson) are roommates. he has an iPad that we put film of our opponents on. I watch it every day after I get my school work done.
"I guess I kind of keep (his iPad) hostage."
Robinson doesn't seem to mind though. He likely knows it's for the greater good.
Williams' new approach has him ranked second in the Southern Conference in rushing (98.1 yards per game) and rushing touchdowns (nine). He's surpassed the 100-yard mark in five of UTC's seven games this season, and is a primary reason the Mocs have rushed for more than 200 yards in six straight games for the first time since 1992.
"He made a commitment in the summer to be great," Huesman said. "It's kind of a simple recipe: if you have talent and you work at it, you'll probably be pretty good."
And he has a chance to be even better.
With 687 yards already through the season's first five games, Williams stands less than 600 yards shy of Eldra Buckley's single-season school rushing record.
"I'll just keep going out every day and playing like my hair is on fire," Williams said. "I'm going to go out every day and show them I'm dedicated. I just want to be the best."
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