Aug. 21, 2009
By Christa Martinez: Graduate Assistant
With the new offense the ball is in the air quite a bit. This presents the receiving corp with the chance to shine, and with the chance to shine comes a high level of competition. For wide receivers and good friends Roland Bruno and Bryant Williams they welcome the competition even though they are competing against each other.
Between the two of them they had 60 catches in 2008 for 514 receiving yards. Bruno has been called one of the team's best blockers and one of the toughest receivers across the board. Williams was one of the most consistent receivers in the 2008 season and coaches expect nothing less from him as they have high expectations for him and believe he can be an excellent playmaker.
These two breakthrough candidates cannot only be seen together on the sidelines but also cracking jokes outside of the locker room. I caught up with Williams and Bruno to talk about football and being friends with the guy you are competing against for a spot on the field.
You are nearing the end of training camp, have you progressed at the rate you wanted to?
Bryant Williams: "So far I think we have. We have come a long way since the spring. We are almost to where we want to be."
Roland Bruno: "You can never really be satisfied with where we are at, but definitely from where we started we have made a lot of progress towards the goal we are trying to reach."
Personally what skills did each of you want to improve on during this camp?
Williams: "The thing I am trying to improve on more would be my blocking and my assignments, catching the ball better. Things like that."
Bruno: "For me not being one of the faster receivers, I think a major part of my game is my ability to run my routes. I spent a lot of time in the summer with Coach Moorehead just trying to get down the small things in my route from coming out of my breaks to coming out at the right angles in my breaks."
How do you feel about the new offense?
Williams: "Anytime you have the spread you gotta love it. As far as this offense goes it's very pass happy so as a receiver I like it a lot."
Bruno: "Like (Williams) said there are definitely a lot of opportunities presented to the receivers as a group. You have to get some excitement being a receiver in this offense knowing individually you have a chance to have a very good year."
Individually what does each of you bring to the team?
Williams: "I always try to bring energy and try to make plays, and I will play anywhere they want me to play."
Bruno: "For both of us what a lot people don't give us credit for is our playing making ability. For me individually, I have a lot of fight I'm never going to quit. I'm going to keep on working to try and get the job done."
Off the field the two of you are pretty good friends from what I understand.
Williams: "Him and I have been friends since I got here. He was one of the first guys I met and started talking to, started hanging with. We just clicked and really get a long. Plus we are part of the same fraternity that is why we are always together. We've just got a brotherhood."
Bruno: "Like he said when he first came in our coach at the time gave me a call and told me that our new receiver was in so I went over to the dorms to meet him. We just got to become close friends after that. We joined the same fraternity."
What fraternity are you guys a part of?
How do you guys find time to be involved in both football and fraternity life?
Williams: "We really don't, but during the spring when we aren't in spring ball we have some down time."
Bryant give me three things to describe Roland Bruno.
Williams: "He is very energetic. He is a very funny person and very outspoken. A very forward person. He is just a cool person."
Roland give me three things to describe Bryant.
Bruno: "I would definitely have to say talented. We talk a lot about future goals and what we have to do to get there so I would have to say determined and definitely funny. We crack jokes all the time, it's non-stop."
What is it like competing against each other? You two are best friends but yet you want the same spot on the field. Does that ever cause problems?
Williams: "Competing makes you better so the more you compete the best it brings out of you. The type of people we are, we have fun with it, and it's not personal. You never let it be personal. Competition is always a good thing.
Bruno: "One of the first things I knew when I signed up to play is that there is always going to be competition. In this situation with Bryant what a lot of people probably think is that it may hurt a friendship. It's nothing like that. We push each other more than anybody else on the team pushes. The level of competition is definitely raised. It makes both of us play better, the fact that we know we have each other's back pushing each other."
Do you compete in other areas off the field?
Bruno: "Not really to much. In the off season we spend a lot of time in the basketball gym."
Who has the better shot?
Williams: "Oh that is definitely me!"
Changing the pace a little bit, what brought you to New Mexico? Bryant you are originally from Minnesota, what brought you out here?
Williams: "Well when I came on a visit I really liked the college environment. This is a really a college town. That is what brought me out here."
Now Roland you are a walk-on from Texas, why did you choose to walk on here and not at a school in your home state?
Bruno: "Well, a lot of people think I came to do track, but what happened was the only scholarship offers I had received before coming here were some Division I AA and junior college and my dad didn't really want me to go to any junior colleges. It just so happens that I was on my way to send off an acceptance letter to another school I went to the mailbox and I had a letter from UNM (from the academic side of the school, not from football). Before I left I went back in the house and called the football coaches and asked them about the walk-on program and they and they had space available. When I came out my clearinghouse hadn't cleared yet so I had to sit out my whole first semester. It was literally last minute."
In closing, Bryant, tell me one thing about Roland that most people wouldn't know.
Williams: "I don't think people really know how talented he is. Besides sports, he can play the drums really well. I don't think people know that. He is a really hard worker and sometimes I think that gets overlooked."
Roland, what is something people might not know about Bryant?
Bruno: "I can say the same thing he said that people over look us as a group, how hard we work and how much talent we have in our receiving core. (Bruno was stumped on this question so after several seconds Williams decided to help him out.)
Williams: "I have a one year old son. His name is Jayvin and he lives in Kansas where I went to junior college."
How often do you get to see him?
Williams: "On breaks, whenever we get a break. It's hard to get there with football and school. But I try as often as I can."
Bruno: "I didn't know people didn't know that."