Another Williams Looking For Starting LB Spot

Antarrious Williams is hoping to prove he belongs in the starting lineup next to returning starter Travis Williams.

Auburn, Ala.--Antarrious Williams is trying to work his way into a first string position at weakside linebacker this preseason after experimenting at safety during the spring. The junior Auburn football player is one of a group of players fighting for the three starting linebacker positions.

"Right now I'm running number one at the will (weakside linebacker), but we haven't written it in pen," Williams says. "I'm just trying to maintain and keep my position. But, as well, I'm trying to get Derrick Graves better so both of us will be able to play and we can both get a bunch of reps in game situations."

In addition to Williams and senior Graves, redshirt freshman Montavian Collier is fighting for playing time at the will position. Travis Williams, a junior, is the returning starter but is likely to move to middle linebacker to replace Dontarrious Thomas, who is currently in the NFL along with another 2003 starting linebacker, Karlos Dansby.

Nicknamed "AT," Williams runs through a drill at Monday's practice.

At 5-11, 208 pounds, Williams is one of the more versatile players on the Auburn defense. As a senior at Shaw High School in Columbus, he was named the Georgia AAAA Defensive Player of the Year as a defensive end, collecting 19 tackles for a loss and eight sacks while leading his team to a 15-0 record and the state championship.

Two of the biggest reasons for Williams' versatility are his speed and understanding of the game. "One of my biggest strengths is play recognition," he says. "I've got a little bit of experience out there with just knowing what's going on, and now I know the defense a little better, and that helps me out.

"Playing safety in the spring helped out a little bit because now I know what the safeties are doing," Williams adds. "Now I know where everybody's going on defense with the safeties, linebackers and D-line"

So far during preseason practices, Williams and some of the other veteran linebackers have been trying to share their knowledge and experience with the younger guys. "The freshmen are doing pretty good, but they've got a lot to work on, but it's always like that when you come into a new system and there's a lot of things different for them," Williams says.

"We're working with them and bringing them along slowly so hopefully they'll get there. Everything I know, I'm trying to teach the freshmen to help them become better players."

Williams is also excited about playing special teams this year, which is another part of his versatility as a football player. If he can avoid injuries, something that has slowed him in recent years, he could be a key part of the team's success.

Williams had to play last season with protection for his injured wrist. In his redshirt freshman year, Williams missed three games with a knee injury. After breaking a bone in his left leg in the Capital One Bowl against Penn State, as well as breaking a bone in his right wrist before the 2003 season, Williams showed toughness by playing in 12 of 13 games with a cast on his arm as a sophomore. "Right now, I feel pretty good physically, especially since I've got opportunities," Williams says. "I'm just trying to perform the best that I can. Everything's going good."

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