GVSU receivers have strong relationship on, off the field

GVSU receivers have strong relationship on, off the field

Beau Troutman

Not one, not two, not three, but four.

The Grand Valley State wide receiving corps already has a full highlight reel through just three games, and features what may one of the strongest groups in Laker history—senior Matt Williams (177 yards, two touchdowns), juniors Brandon Bean (222 yards, one touchdown) and Urston Smith (248 yards, two touchdowns) and sophomore Nick Dodson (65 yards, one touchdown).

Williams is coming off of a year last year in which he led the team in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Bean led the GLIAC in receiving last year before an injury midway through the season sidelined him. Smith made an appearance on ESPN with a SportsCenter Top 10 catch.

Though the receivers have only played seven and a half meaningful quarters this season due to the large margin of victory in the first few games, they’ve already put up several highlight plays.

Bean already has a couple of favorites.

“I got two,” Bean said. “When (Smith) had that catch down the middle (against Tiffin), that was crazy because I was actually on the field for that. And then, underrated, Matt (Williams) literally drug somebody in the end zone last game (against Northern Michigan).

“We got guys Moss-ing people, dragging people in the end zone. I mean, you watch that, it’s crazy.”

The receivers have given quarterback Bart Williams an arsenal of weapons to work with, and the offense has been a model of efficiency. Bart Williams has a 199.4 passer efficiency rating, no interceptions and is averaging 19 yards a completion.

Though the receivers get credit for making the ridiculous catches, they say it wouldn’t be possible without their quarterback.

“Having Bart back there throwing us the ball, he could run down the field and actually put the ball on my chest and it wouldn’t be any easier to catch,” Bean said. “He just makes the game that simple for us. When you got all of us on the field, it’s just a dynamic offense.”

While Bean has his favorite moments, Matt Williams’ favorite moment this season isn’t focused on any particular catch.

“There isn’t a specific happy moment or favorite moment for me, it’s just every day, hanging out with these guys. These dudes, they’re a bunch of fools,” Matt Williams said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The receivers’ brotherhood on and off the field is part of what makes them so collectively strong. But like any brotherhood, they do have their disagreements.

Who has the best hands on the team has been a sore subject for the past few years. When forced to make a decision, the brotherly camaraderie quickly disappears.

“Matt,” Matt Williams said.

Bean retorted. He says Brendan McMahon, a defensive back, has the best hands—but the group quickly decides he doesn’t count because he’s on defense. Smith takes his name out of the discussion.

“It’s between Matt and Bean,” Smith said. “They just have soft hands.”

Matt Williams said coach Matt Mitchell, who was present for the debate, said he gave him the honor of best hands last season.

Bean couldn’t accept this.

“No, he did not,” Bean said. “No, no, no, I would really be salty if coach Mitchell said that to my face.”

Mitchell, whose opinion seems to hold the most weight, refuses to bestow the honor of best hands.

The debate rages on.

“We’ve been on the topic for the last three years,” Matt Williams said.

The next subject is best route running. Unlike best hands, the group is quick to give Dodson this category for his ability to weave past defenders and run crisp, clean routes. The group was also quick to point out that Smith was the best at getting separation off of the line and beating defenders on the deep ball.

“That was an easy one,” Matt Williams said. “Less sore of a subject.”

Next category: the fastest.

“Definitely not me,” Matt Williams said.

One down. The group consensus is that Smith is the fastest, but takes a while to hit top speed. They agree that the shifty Dodson has the best off-the-ball speed. Call it a tie.

Bean takes the category of best blocker—but the group notes he’s tied with senior Joe Robbins.

One category, though, trumps all of the rest, and it is one the entire group takes great pride in.

“Without a doubt I would say we’re the closest-knit group on the team, I would definitely fight for that,” Bean said. “Your team depends on you, but I’m leaning on Urston, Urston’s leaning on Matt, and so on.”

Matt Williams is in his senior year, and said the only thing he wants to do in his final year in Laker blue is win. Statistics, dragging defenders into the end zone and personal honors aside, all he wants more than anything is a national championship.

Part of building a winning culture is holding each other accountable—something Matt Williams makes a priority as a team leader.

“(The receivers) hold each other to the highest expectations,” Matt Williams said. “If someone makes a mistake, we pick them up, tell them what they did, and if they don’t like it, tough.”

The Lakers offense is in good hands this year—literally. With the emergence of Martayveus Carter at running back and their gunslinger quarterback, the GVSU receiving corps will have plenty more opportunity for success this season.

As the debate among top categories winds down, Matt Williams brings up one last category that wasn’t mentioned.

“Best looking group on the field too,” he said.

Bean isn’t so sure about this, and then Williams takes a cheap shot.

“We do have Urston, so I guess not that good looking,” he said.

Smith takes the opportunity not to fire back, but use the moment to sum up what makes this unit exactly what they are—a brotherhood.

“That’s part of it right there, man,” Smith said. “That’s part of it right there.”