Auburn, Ala.--Coming off a football season in which he played mostly on special teams as a true freshman, linebacker Darrell Williams is looking for bigger and better things as he heads into his second year with the Auburn Tigers. Anxious to show what he can do, Williams said he learned a by watching older guys like Kris Frost, Justin Garrett and Cassanova McKinzy from the sidelines and in practice.
"I was in the position I could have played a lot, but our old coordinator, Coach (Will) Muschamp, didn't feel like I was ready enough," Darrell Williams said. "I had never been in that position where I didn't play, so I sat back and watched a lot of the older guys, and took a lot of technique, and I could see a little difference in a lot of things. My eyes are open more, growing up as a player.
"I’m really excited about it. I know it's a lot to look for this season, not only for myself, but as a team. I know it's pretty much my time to get back into playing a lot. I'm ready to see what it holds for me."
One of the biggest things that Darrell Williams brings to the table for new position coach Travis Williams is his ability to run and cover. Playing both the weakside linebacker as well as the money position that is often in coverage, the former Hoover High All-American said he feels like the way he's being used in Kevin Steele's defense fits him perfectly.
"I definitely feel like that is my style of play," he said. 'I feel I'm more comfortable doing those type spread things. Coming here I knew I had to get better, faster, quicker, recognize stuff quick because that gives you a step up against those faster offenses."
At 6-2, 230, Williams has the size to play between the tackles and be a physical player against the run, but it's his athleticism that makes him such an intriguing player. It was evident all the way to his sophomore season with the Bucs and Travis Williams said the more he finds his groove on this level the better he's going to get.
"Darrell’s doing a really good job," the coach said. "He’s very athletic for a linebacker. He allows us to do some things with him from his athletic skill set, but he’s a guy that’s got to continue just to work and just grind."
Williams was a standout for the Hoover Bucs and an Under Armour All-American.
Part of the work that Williams is putting in comes from spending time with graduate transfer T.J. Neal. A veteran of playing in the Big 10 at Illinois, Neal is new to Auburn and the SEC, but the sophomoe said he's taught him plenty already about how to use his eyes and read his keys at the position.r
“He came from a different conference and a different league so it’s a little different for him but when he came in," Williams said. "The biggest thing I noticed was he was a smart guy. It was a different style of play and we would come in together and watch film during the summer and I would listen to him because he’s an older guy. He would say you got to do this or that to help you out on reading the play. He’s been a big help in that way.”
Now on the cusp of living out his dream of playing linebacker for Auburn, Williams said being successful comes down to a few simple things. "The first thing they said is you have to be physical and give effort," Williams said of what Steele and Travis Williams have been preaching. "That’s the biggest thing we’ve been working on is you’re not going to play if you’re not willing to give effort running to the play on the defensive side of the ball. Being in the SEC that’s what it’s about, being physical.”