When he left Washington after the end of the 2014 season, Troy Williams promised he would return in some fashion. He's eager to face his old team this week.

Share story

He didn’t know exactly where he would wind up, or how exactly he would get there, but Troy Williams knew exactly who he wanted to play once he got back:

The Washington Huskies.

And here he is, just as he expected, the starting quarterback for No. 17 Utah, readying for a showdown against the No. 4 Huskies on Saturday in Salt Lake City.

When he left Washington after the end of the 2014 season, Williams promised he would return in some fashion.

Most Read Sports Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

“I’ll be back real soon,” he told The Times then. “Don’t worry about me.”

He’s eager to face his old team this week.

“I didn’t know what team I would be on, or what school I would be at, or how it would come about, but I always envisioned myself getting a chance to play against them — going against my brothers out there,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “That was my main motivation to get back to this level and prove people wrong.”

UW coach Chris Petersen acknowledged Monday that the 2014 season, his first in Seattle, was a “chaotic” time when the Huskies were trying to find their identity. Williams lost a battle with Jeff Lindquist to start that season opener at Hawaii, and then he spent most of the year as the third-string QB behind Cyler Miles and Lindquist.

“That’s hard on the coaches coming in, we don’t know the kids,” Petersen said. “The guys that recruited them aren’t here anymore, scheme may change, all those type of things. It’s the only time I’ve really been involved with that, coming to a new place one time. We had a lot of turnover. … That happens when you get a new crew in, everybody’s got to find the best fit for them.”

Williams, recruited to UW by Steve Sarkisian, didn’t think he got a fair shake with Petersen, and he said he came to the realization early on that he wasn’t going to fit with the new staff.

“I just wasn’t one of his guys, that’s what it came down to,” Williams said. “Just me and my background and where I come from, just wasn’t his type of guy. We just had to part ways.”

As Williams remembers it, he was called into Petersen’s office the day after the Huskies’ loss at Oregon in October 2014.

“After the Oregon game, (where) I scored my first touchdown and everything, he called me into his office that next day, that Sunday, and told me he’d be moving me to fourth string,” he said Tuesday. “I didn’t know what else I could do to prove I could play this game. But that was his decision and that was pretty much his way of telling me it was my time to leave.”

For the record, Williams did get his one start for UW the following week in a home loss to No. 14 Arizona State, a game played in monsoon-like conditions at Husky Stadium. He completed 18-of-26 passes for 139 yards with two interceptions. After that, he only played once more for the Huskies, appearing in mop-up duty in the Apple Cup.

After spending the 2015 season at Santa Monica College, Williams signed with Utah and has thrown for 1,725 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions in leading the Utes (7-1) into a tie atop the Pac-12 South standings. He’s also rushed for five touchdowns.

“All the hard work I had to put in, the hard road I had to take, my family’s been behind me the whole way, regardless of the situation,” he said. “It means a lot to be here and have this opportunity.”