Williams Is Big Talk At Tight End

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas freshman D.J. Williams is good at answering questions, and hopes someday to be as good at asking them.



The tight end from Central Arkansas Christian is a communications major who's already made a big splash on and off the field.

Asked if he'd like to work for ESPN someday, Williams grinned and said, "Something like that. I'm trying to get there."

Williams, at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, figured to come in and work behind fullback Peyton Hillis his first year. (Hence his No. 45 in practice.)

Instead, injuries to tight end Ben Cleveland and split end Marcus Monk caused Arkansas' offensive coaches to covet Williams' receiving ability as a tight end.

Williams caught two passes in last Saturday night's scrimmage and is currently running second to starting tight end Andrew Davie, his former teammate at CAC.

"D.J. is a very good athlete who is adjusting well to college play," Hogs coach Houston Nutt said Tuesday. "He runs great routes and can really get separation. He'll be a contributor for us."

When Arkansas runs two-tight ends sets, Williams will get on the field against Troy for sure on Sept. 1.

"D.J., Nathan Dick and Crosby Tuck have been three real bright spots on offense," Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee said. "D.J. is really intense. We're going to do some things to get him the ball in the first game."

Rated the No. 9 high school tight end in the nation by Rivals.com last year, Williams also made The Associated Press Super Team as a linebacker despite playing in just eight games. With his 4.62 speed, he attracted the likes of Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss in addition to Arkansas.

"I really liked (former UA assistant) Danny Nutt in recruiting," Williams said. "He's a great guy. He can't be on the field now, but I eat with him a lot. He's still part of this team. (Running backs coach) Tim Horton is a great guy, too."

James Shibest, Arkansas' tight ends coach, also recruited Williams.

"It's great to have a good receiver like D.J.," Shibest said. "He's really a receiver playing tight end. Right now he's still learning the running game. But if he keeps improving the next four or five days, he'll get a lot of playing time. He's a tough guy to defend."

Not only can Williams get open and catch the ball, he's also a load to bring down after he catches it.

"I wanted to come in and back up Peyton at fullback, but injuries happen," Williams said. "Right now they need me more at tight end."

Hillis returned from a hamstring problem in good shape Tuesday, but Cleveland remained out with a "stinger" condition.

Catching passes is fine with Williams, he said.

"We were pass-oriented at CAC," he said. "That's all we did -- catch, catch, catch."

He understands the importance of blocking in Arkansas' offense, though.

"Running is the biggest part of our team," Williams said. "With two All-Americans (Darren McFadden, Felix Jones) plus Michael Smith and Peyton Hillis, you have to be able to block. You can be as big and fast as you want, but blocking is all about technique."

Williams said Shibest and UA offensive line coach Mike Markuson had helped him with that.

Just two days into UA classes, Williams has had to adjust to both college football and college academics.

"On the field, the biggest adjustment is how big and physical it is," he said. "And now the mental part -- I have so much to learn.

"In the classroom, it's pretty cool. It's like that show 'The College Life.'"

At the rate he's going, Williams may someday have a show of his own.

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