After another spring practice in which he hauled in a bevy of passes on Saturday, University of Arkansas sophomore-to-be tight end D.J. Williams was in for some solid praise from Razorback offensive coordinator Paul Petrino.
"I am really excited about him," Petrino said. "I think he can be a big-time player for us. He works hard, he's got good hands, he's picking up the ball. He's in a great, great spot for us and I am not surprised because we thought he was going to be good. I think he can be a real good weapon."
Williams, who starred at Central Arkansas Christian as a prepster, caught 4 passes for 82 yards in his rookie season at Arkansas.
"You could see how athletic he was (on film) and even just working out in the weight room," Petrino said. "We just felt real good about him coming out here and he is backing that up."
Williams said he is enjoying the transition to a more wide-open offense under head coach Bobby Petrino and his brother Paul.
"It's working pretty good," Williams said. "It is more studying than it is on the field, just trying to get it.
"You have got to be in condition because this whole practice is pretty much conditioning at the same time," Williams added. "I think it will be pretty good once the season rolls around."
Williams is once again lining up at both tight end and fullback, but doing different things out of those spots.
"It is getting more out in the routes so you have to be in better condition, blocking schemes and every play when you come to the line, you may check it every single time," Williams said. "You have to study to know what you are doing."
He admits that there is certainly a different mindset after the coaching staff change.
"It is always hard adjusting because you get so comfortable with one thing and then something new comes in," Williams said. "It just took time to get used to and adjust and every thing is looking good.
"We all know that we were a primary run team last year and they are coming up trying to balance things," Williams said. "I don't think it is going to be so much more pass than run, it will just be more balanced. We will run the ball to open up our passing game."
That will include several more shots down the field than last season.
"I would think so because we are just trying to spread out the field a little bit more," Williams said. "We may run deep routes to loosen up that line of scrimmage."
"Coach Petrino is a good coach and knows what he is talking about and so do all the assistants so I think it is going to be a pretty good year," Williams said.
He does not know if he will be handed the football yet this season.
"They told me always keep my eyes and ears open to everything," Williams said.
Williams is one of four front-line tight ends the Razorbacks are working with along with Andrew Davie, Ben Cleveland and Lance Thompson.
"It is starting to sink in now – knowing you have school to work with and that football is pretty much a whole different class," Williams said. "You have got to study. It is all about studying, studying, studying and getting to the point where you are tired of it, but you have to just block that out and keep on going. The biggest transition is the speed of the game and the dedication you have to put into it."
Williams likely won't be the only former CAC star to catch passes for the Razorbacks this season since incoming freshman Joe Adams flipped from USC to Arkansas on national signing day.
"I had an idea," Williams said. "I knew he was coming here. He's a homeboy from Little Rock and I think he will like this offense up here."
Williams was rumored to be thinking about following the former coaching staff to Ole Miss, but it was blown out of proportion according to the player himself.
He had talked about it with his new head coach, but certainly had not made a decision one way or the other.
"Speculation got around and that was just some people calling (radio call-in show) Drive Time (Sports) like they always do and they said something about how my family was all messed up," Williams said. "My mom called me and to see what was going on and I had about 50 to 75 phone calls. I had to turn my phone off and then had to change my number. Rumors get around and people just start going crazy. But I am happy here."
D.J.'s Shining Bright
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