There is more to being a left tackle for the Alabama football team than just eating your way up to 300 pounds. Jonah Williams thought it would be a good idea to start eating with his left hand.
Williams was Alabama’s starter at right tackle for every game as a true freshman last year, but with All-America Cam Robinson leaving the Tide for the NFL, Williams was switched to left tackle this spring. Williams certainly has the qualifications after being a Freshman All-America in Bama’s 14-1 season in 2016.
As part of his preparation for the move, Williams, 6-5, 301, said, “I tried to eat and write with my left hand, get a little ambidextrous. It was a smooth transition for me.”
Williams has given up part of his scheme to be more ambidextrous. He said he gave up the writing part “pretty quick when I was graded on the assignments. But I can do most things. It’s just the really fine motor skills that are going to take a while if I keep working on that.”
As for the eating, he said, “It’s going well. Some of my friends remind me to put the fork back in my left hand when I’m eating, but for the most part it’s going well.
“It was a game I was playing with myself. I just wanted to try something and make myself more fluid and comfortable.”
That wasn’t all he did in preparation for the move.
“I would go out on the field after practice with Ross (left guard Ross Pierschbacher) and my buddies and play the left tackle spot, getting used to it, getting a feel for it.
“It was smooth for me. It wasn’t a big shock.”
Williams said moving to the left side has not been a handicap. “It’s not like my right hand is behind my back,” he said. “Depending on the block or situation, you're using both hands. It's not like I'm totally inept with my left hand.
“It's the same as anyone trying to do anything with their left hand they usually do with their right or their left foot or whatever. But at the same time I use my right hand for a lot of stuff at left tackle so it's not a huge difference from that standpoint.
“It takes a little bit of getting used to when you're watching film to have your eyes snap from the left tackle to right tackle. But I played both in high school. We did field and boundary operations, so I would switch every single time the ball went to the other hash.
“It's not the 1980s anymore with Steve Wallace and Joe Montana and stuff like that. It's not as big of a difference. The quarterback looking on the left side of the field is not the blind spot anymore. It's not a huge difference like that. There's a stigma that goes along with the title (left tackle), but it's just a title.
“I I enjoy playing left tackle, it's what I've wanted to play for a long time. I'm comfortable there.”
Williams thinks left tackle is his natural position. “Working inside, I get to use my power, my more natural hand, coming down and stepping inside,” he said.
Williams said the coaching staff made the determination to move him to left tackle and he actually started some work prior to the start of spring practice.
Will he stay on the left side?
“I’m just kind of doing what the coaches ask me,” he said. “It's above my pay grade to make that kind of decision.”
There was good reason to think that Williams would be an outstanding player. Before he arrived at Alabama from Folsom (Calif.) High School, he had been labeled “as the best player regardless of position in 35 years” in the Sacramento area.
He was an early enrollee last year and took over the right tackle spot almost from Day One of spring practice.
In addition to his Freshman All-America accolades, he was Freshman All-Southeastern Conference and second team All-SEC and was the SEC Freshman of the Week for his play in the season-opening win over Southern Cal and the SEC Lineman of the Week after Bama’s win over Tennessee.
He had 27 pancake blocks and was selected by the Tide coaching staff as a player of the week in eight games.