MOLINE — Cory Ross was plenty pleased with the talent found during the revived Quad City Steamwheelers' first open tryout in early October.
However, with the last few players signed by the local pro indoor football team, the 'Wheelers coach has raised the bar with prospects on the NFL and CFL radar, planning to avoid the growing pains of most expansion clubs.
The latest and greatest free-agent to land came Wednesday when running back Tyler Williams agreed to join the Champions Indoor Football club coached by Ross, who played running back himself a decade ago in the NFL.
Williams was the Indoor Football League's Special Teams Player of the Year last season for the now-defunct Wichita Falls Nighthawks. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound scatback broke the IFL record with 2,554 all-purpose yards, accounting for 29 TDs — 17 rushing, nine receiving, two via kick returns and another on a fumble recovery.
A 2015 NFL Draft prospect coming out of Division I Akron, Williams also earned second-team All-IFL honors last season at running back.
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Williams led the IFL with 1,999 all-purpose yards in 2016 as well, with 1,237 of that on kick returns. He also gained 427 yards on the ground and 335 receiving yards and finished fourth in the league in total scoring, with 22 rushing touchdowns the second-best total in the rival circuit.
"This guy has it all — stop-and-go speed, he's patient, creates openings, makes guys miss. You name it, he can do it. He's that much of a versatile player," Ross raved about Williams, who was clocked with a 4.54 40-yard dash time.
"This young man is a game-changer," added QC owner Doug Bland. "He's a guy that gives our team and our fans that vote of confidence every time he touches the ball."
Williams is the 33rd player to sign with the 'Wheelers. The CIF allows teams a 35-man roster during training camp, which is set to open Feb. 10 for QC.
Williams joins a backfield that already includes Grambling State fullback Jestin Kelly and Davenport Central alum Zach Minch.
"We are recruiting like crazy to bring the best talent available to camp," Ross said about his latest recruiting coup. "You bring in the best, and everyone responds to give their best."