RMU ready to take snaps under center

By Etheria Modacure

Robert Morris University started a new chapter in its athletic department for fall 2011. The university will begin intercollegiate play in football with a new facility in Arlington Heights, Ill.,  and has hired a former college offensive coordinator as  its head coach.

Jared Williamson has been tapped to lead the RMU Eagles.

Williamson is a former college quarterback who played at Mayville State University in North Dakota. Williamson was an offensive coordinator at NCAA Division III school Illinois Wesleyan University, in Bloomington, Ill.

Robert Morris is part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and has a strong academic foundation to complement its athletic department, said RMU president  Micheal Viollt .

The confidence of a former quarterback wasn’t missing in Williamson when he talked about his own expectations for next season

and beyond.

“You don’t start or work towards something or accept a job and not expect to be successful,” Williamson said.

An already solid athletic standing attracted Williamson to RMU before he was hired in June 2010.

“[RMU] is not ready to start a program because of numbers, [it’s] ready to start a program to win,” Williamson said.

The allure of coaching a college football team in Chicago was an offer Williamson couldn’t pass up.

“If it were a different state or a smaller town, it wouldn’t have been as intriguing,” Williamson said.

The passion to begin a football program was not only present within Williamson, but also with his coaches and Viollt. Viollt said athletics teaches students important life lessons about failure and working with people of different backgrounds.

Erik Osborne, offensive coordinator for the Eagles, shares the same passion and excitement at RMU.

“It’s a unique experience, getting to start from the ground up,” Osborne said.

While the coaches of the football team discuss their excitement to begin the season, getting the right players to attend RMU is one hurdle this staff isn’t afraid to jump over.

“If we were located in a different area, it would be really hard,” Williamson said. “This is a great area for athletes, for football. Our goal is to improve every year. I want to build a solid foundation.”

Williamson is known for having good offenses as he helped Illinois Wesleyan improve in rushing and passing yardage in each of the four seasons he was on

the sideline.

“We were happy for him when he got the job,” said Dennie Bridges, athletic director at Illinois Wesleyan. “But, we regretted not keeping him on our staff.”

Bridges said he believes Williamson is the right man to lead a new football program in Chicago and spoke highly of his relationship with players.

“He was really into not only the X’s and O’s, but getting along with the players,” Bridges said. “If anybody can do it, he can. Jared has the enthusiasm and the football background to get it done.”

The addition of football doesn’t mean academics will take a backseat to athletics said Viollt, something the head coach echoed.

“The No. 1 program goal is graduation,” Williamson said. “[RMU] shows that support by having high academic standards. We want to graduate our players and win


The Eagles will play a junior varsity schedule when their season starts fall 2011. The following year, the university will have a full varsity schedule.

Williamson and his coaching staff aren’t worried about having a coaching tactic set in stone at the moment. The coaches said they will eventually get the right players to

be successful.

“We have a good idea in mind of what we want to run and try to recruit to those specific player types,” Williamson said.

“You want to do what’s best for your players,” said Nick Eberle, defensive coordinator for the Eagles. “If we have guys that are super fast, we’re going to run a defense that takes advantage of that.”

“We can’t wait to get out there and start practicing and playing games,” Osborne said.