Veteran Sirod Williams Has Waited His Turn

Much has been said about the quality of the Fighting Illini football team's defensive front four. Coach Tom Sims has a deep and talented group. While competition for playing time is intense, senior tackle Sirod Williams remains a fixture on the first team.

A 292 pounder from Garfield Heights, Ohio, Sirod Williams combines quick feet with extreme strength. He is excited to be in this position but feels he has earned it.

"It's real great. I feel like I paid my dues, I got better in technique, and I think it's my year."

Williams and fellow senior Dave Lindquist must keep on their toes to stay ahead of heralded youngsters like Josh Brent, D'Angelo McCray, Reggie Ellis and Corey Liuget. But Sirod doesn't waste time looking over his shoulder.

"I don't really focus on nobody else because I want to try to make myself better. If you focus on somebody else, you're not really focusing on yourself. I try to come out here and make myself better every day. Competition can make the best out of you. A lot of superstars would be nothing without competition."

Williams likes Coach Sims, who keeps his charges on their toes with spirited practices and constant repetition. The goal is to make everyone's play instinctive and second nature.

"Practice is real fun. It's real high intense. You work real hard in practice, but then when you get to the games it's just lights out."

Sirod was recruited as a defensive end, but the lack of depth made the move to tackle a team necessity. He played as a true freshman, but he needed time to learn the position.

"It wasn't a struggle physically, it was a struggle learning technique. Tackle is another different world, and it took me about a year to master the technique. I'm still learning, but I already have confidence. That's what a player needs, confidence."

He has also had to bulk up over the years to handle the pounding from massive offensive linemen.

"I came about 250, but then as a freshman I had a bad time getting meals and got down to 230. I didn't know how to balance my schedule. But then I've gained 15-20 pounds every year. Coach Lou (Hernandez) really helped me out on that."

Indeed he did, although Williams was accustomed to working hard in the weight room when he arrived at Illinois. He is now one of the squad's strongest players.

"That's one of my main goals because I come from a high school that really had a great lifting program. So ever since I came here as a freshman, I tried to work to be one of the strongest on the team. I bench close to 500; squats, I'd say about 650; the power clean about 380."

The untrained eye cannot possibly fathom all the complexities of the explosion that occurs on each snap of the ball between offensive and defensive linemen. Like Sumo wrestlers, both sides try to gain advantage the first instant.

"You just work on it every day. It's mainly about explosion in the hips. Especially like with me, I'm blessed with upper body strength, so if I get in trouble it's easier to get out of it. Real quick hands and feet is the key. I heard on TV that anybody that has real quick hands and feet can play anything."

There was much confusion over Sirod's height out of high school. He was listed by different sources as 6''0, 6'-2", and 6'-4". Why was there such discrepancy?

"When I came in, I was 6'-0", last year they had me listed as 5'-11". I think I'm 6'-1" or 6' and 1/2" or something like that. My high school coach hyped me up a little bit and said 6'-4"."

The Tourism Management major preferred to discuss team goals over personal goals.

"This year, we're trying to break the sack record because last year we were close. "

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