Williams College football: Ephs' QB gets to learn with Broncos

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WILLIAMSTOWN — A lot of college football coaches spend their off-seasons trying to improve on their skills and looking for things they can use when their teams start playing. Williams College assistant coach KiJuan Ware went right to the top for his summer school experience.

Ware, who starts his third season as the quarterback coach on head coach Aaron Kelton's staff Saturday when the Ephs travel to Bowdoin, earned a Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship and used it by working with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

"It was an unbelievable experience just to see [Manning], the way he works in practice and the way he carries himself," said Ware after a recent Williams practice at Farley-Lamb Field. "He leads the team by example.

"It was a great opportunity to see how the Broncos do things. I have it stored in my memory banks for when I'm a head coach."

Ware's boss at Williams, head coach Aaron Kelton, has received Walsh Fellowships four times. Kelton was with the Miami Dolphins in 2013, Arizona Cardinals in 2009, Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008 and Indianapolis Colts in 2007.

Ware joined Jason Phillips and Gerard Wilcher as Walsh Fellowship interns in the Broncos camp this summer. Phillips played wide receiver for the Detroit Lions (1989-90) and Atlanta Falcons (1991-93). He also coached at Southern Methodist and the University of Houston. Wilcher is the defensive coordinator at Division II Seton Hill University. He has also coached at UMass-Amherst, Cornell, Lehigh, Boston College and Cheyney University.

The Williams head coach said this will help Ware and the Ephs.

"Being out in Denver and being around NFL organizations, you get a different perspective on how operations can work and you're learning more football," said the Williams head coach. "That was the key thing. You were able to learn more football. He's come back with new energy to help our quarterbacks, who we think will be pretty good."

Returning starter Austin Lommen, Mark Pomella and John Gannon are the returning veteran quarterbacks for Williams.

"That's a cool experience to be able to have [Ware] with that experience and that knowledge," said Lommen, a senior co-captain. "As we game plan, some of that detailed stuff that he was able to pick up will definitely be in."

Ware and Peyton Manning have another connection. Ware has worked at the Manning Passing Academy for the past 12 years.

"Working that camp, I got to know him as one of the guys and not just as 'Peyton Manning,' " Ware said. "He's one of the guys. They like being around him."

According to a press release from the Broncos, the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship is an annual program administered by the league's management council and player engagement departments. The objective, the release continues, is to use training camps and minicamps to give "talented minority coaches opportunities to observe, participate, gain experience and ultimately gain a full-time NFL coaching position."

Ware is a Springfield College graduate, playing quarterback for coach Mike Delong. He has been coaching at the high school and college level since then. He came to Williams after coaching defensive backs at Eastern Michigan University. Ware also spent time at Westeren Illinois, Miami (Ohio), Notre Dame, Dartmouth and Georgetown.

"[The Broncos] gave me free reign to sit in different meetings and see different groups work drills," said Ware. "I primarily worked with the running backs, and the reason I did that is because I'm involved in protections, the routes as well as the blocking schemes.

"I had a chance to sit with the quarterbacks coach for a couple of meetings. I sat with the running backs and I sat in all of the special teams meetings."

While one should not expect Williams to become "Denver East," Ware said he hopes to use some of what he learned on the field in NESCAC this fall.

"I have a bunch of notes," he said. "What we can implement here, we're going to implement. What we can't, I'm going to hold on to."

Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.


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