The victory was the third consecutive state football title for the school and the culmination of a lot of hard work by Auburn commitment Darrell Williams and his teammates.
A talented linebacker who committed to the Tigers in May, the four-star recruit has been one of the leaders for Coach Josh Niblett’s team since the Bucs walked on the field this season. Taking that role very seriously, Williams said finishing his senior year with the title was the only way to go. Doing it on his future home field at Jordan-Hare Stadium made it even better.
“It was very special because it meant winning the state championship,” Williams said. “Those are the same all the time, but winning it at a school where you are committed and you’re going to go play makes it even more special. I just really appreciate the opportunities I have been given and I thank God for it.”
Planning to visit Alabama, Oklahoma and Ole Miss in addition to Auburn, Williams said he’s still solidly committed to the Tigers at the moment despite getting plenty of attention from other schools throughout his senior season.
“I feel great with my commitment,” Williams said. “Coach (Gus) Malzahn is a great coach and he has showed me love every day. Coming down there every time is a great feeling and getting to know all the people, they have great fans and a great coaching staff. It feels right and that’s really what helped me make my decision for Auburn.”
Williams is excited about his team's big win
A linebacker, Williams built a relationship with Ellis Johnson as Auburn’s defensive coordinator, but now he will have a new coach to get to know when Malzahn makes his hire to coordinate the defense and coach linebackers. That is something that Williams said is tough to deal with, but he knows it comes with the territory of major college football.
“It’s just kind of wait and see,” Williams said. “That’s one of the worst things that can happen to a recruit because that guy pretty much recruited you and you built a relationship with him. Y’all had talks about the future would be like for you and it’s kind of hard.
“I liked him and loved the time we had to spend together and build our relationship,” he added. “I wish him the best. Things happen and he knows it’s a business in the college field. He texted me good luck and to get the three-peat. I appreciate him as a man. He’s a great man and I wish him the best.”
While he will have a new coach to get to know at Auburn, Williams said having Malzahn to guide things makes him confident the next guy will be the right guy for the Tigers because of what he stands for on and off the field.
“It helps a lot,” Williams said. “It’s the next four years of your life and you really want to go to a school that the people there love you and want you and need you, not just a school that just wants you to come there. It’s out of love. They see more than just a football player in you. They want to build a great man.
"Coach Niblett has done a good job of raising me up, all the coaches here. They want somebody like that and want to make you better. That’s where you want to be the next four years of your life.”
On the field Williams sees opportunity with the Tigers. A defense that showed promise early in the season but couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch, Auburn will be making a significant change with a new coordinator next season. That means the chance for early playing time, something Williams is looking for on the next level.
“That factors in a lot because every kid would like to play early,” Williams said. “I played early in high school. That will factor in a lot for me because it just makes your experience better in the end.”