BYU sophomore defensive back Shamon Willis thought he did pretty well in his first start in the 28-25 Cougar upset win over then-No. 14 Boise State, although he was quick to note that he wants to get better.
“It was fun,” Willis said after practice on Tuesday. “It was something I’ve always dreamed about since I was younger. I wanted to enjoy the moment but also take advantage of the opportunity I’d been given. I felt like I did pretty well but now that I’m getting more experience I feel like I can get better. I learned a lot from the first game but overall I felt like I was able to learn a lot from the first game.”
He grinned when asked how his dad — former BYU star running back Jamal Willis — felt about his performance.
“He was more in the dad mode,” Shamon Willis said. “He was really excited to see me out there. He wasn’t really paying attention to the X’s and O’s. He was proud to be a dad and see my goals come true.”
The Cougar sophomore (and former Westlake star) credited his father’s knowledge and training for helping him get where he is now.
“He’s been an influence on me since I was in diapers,” Shamon Willis said. “I remember him taking me outside and we would do footwork drills, football drills, anything. When I got older in high school, he was the one I would go to for everything. He’s taught me probably the most about football that anyone has. He taught me toughness and how to compete. He tried to give everything he had to me. Obviously I have a different body type and I’m a different type of athlete, but he tried to instill those things in me since I was young and I’m very grateful for that.”
The path for Shamon Willis from playing for the Thunder included stops at Snow College and Weber State before arriving in Provo, so it wasn’t an easy road.
“It’s been a long process for me individually,” Shamon Willis said. “I’ve had to work so hard. I learned that things aren’t given to you, so you’ve got to work hard. I’m enjoying the moment but I’m not being satisfied with where I’m at.”
Now his goal is to continue to get better.
“I want to improve on making plays,” Shamon Willis said. “There were times where I saw it and there were times where I could’ve made a play, but experience didn’t allow me to do that. I wasn’t able to see it clearly, so I want to get back and watch those things on film so I can see them quicker.”
He liked how the BYU cornerbacks played aggressively against Boise State and said they want to continue to be physical when the Cougars play at Utah State this Saturday (8 p.m. MT, ESPN2).
“We were playing with confidence and getting hyped for everything,” Shamon Willis said. “We stepped it up and want to carry that on to the next game. Our cornerbacks want to go out and be the most physical group on the defense. That for sure is one of the key things that we focused on.”
He knows that the Aggies and specifically USU junior quarterback Jordan Love will test the BYU secondary.
“He’s really technical and he’s one of the better quarterbacks we will face this year,” Shamon Willis said. “As a defensive back group, we are taking it as a challenge to be on point with our technique and with our reads. As a defensive back, you always expect to be challenged but we will be ready. It will be a good challenge and we’re excited.”