Tyler JC Corner Wants to Make Immediate Impact

The impending loss of cornerback Atif Austin will leave a starting job open for the taking this spring. A JUCO transfer from the Lone Star State the Cyclones recently offered a scholarship could be the one competing for that job.

Given the fact he has just two seasons of eligibility remaining over the next two years, Tyler Junior College cornerback Nino Williams is looking at programs where he can play right away. He's also not very shy when discussing his abilities to play at the next level.

"Not being conceited or anything, but I think I can go in and play anywhere," said Williams, who recorded more than 70 tackles this fall to go along with five interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. "I don't think there are too many players out there that bring to the table what I bring. I'm the total package. I have a nose for the ball and am a physical type that likes to get in your face and press. I can play zone coverage, man-to-man coverage or whatever's needed. I'm also a vocal leader and lead by example."

The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder currently has offers on the table from LSU, Kentucky, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa State. He visited Kentucky the weekend of Oct. 26 and is working to get his remaining scheduled in the near future.

"I haven't set up all of my visits yet, but Missouri, Iowa State, LSU and Louisiana Tech are the ones that I'm mostly concerned with going to," he said. "I am supposed to go to Iowa State on the 13th of December."

What makes Williams even more appealing is his mid-year transfer status, meaning he'll be able to start attending classes at a D-I institution in January and participate in spring practice. Williams said he will take some time before making a commitment, however.

"It's such an important decision that you don't want to rush it," he said. "I've got Thanksgiving to talk to my dad and uncle and just see what they think of the different schools and get their opinions. I want to go with the best situation for me."

Right now the Cyclones are near the top of Williams' list. The standout cornerback has developed a good relationship with Coach Terry Allen and is anticipating a positive official visit when he heads to Ames.

"Iowa State's a team on the rise and is just looking for some help in certain spots," he said. "If they can get that, they'll be the total package. They have players there, but if they were capable of doing what they wanted they wouldn't be recruiting me. They're recruiting me to come do a job that needs to be done.

"I've only talked to Coach Allen, who's been recruiting me and that's about it. I haven't visited yet, so I haven't been able to see any of the facilities yet. I'm pretty excited about getting ready to see it."

Williams is on pace to sign with a higher-level Division I program just two years after switching to cornerback. He played wide receiver and strong safety at Oklahoma City's John Marshall High School, and wasn't too bad at what he did.

He made 55 tackles and one interception as a high school senior, earning all-district and all-city honors on defense. Williams also was named an all-district wide receiver. His play landed him in the Jim Thorpe All Star Game, which is composed of the state's best players in all classes. Williams led Jim Marshall, a Class 5A, Division I program, to an 8-4 mark that season and into the second round of the playoffs.

But Tyler coach Eule Ford decided the cornerback position would be the place Williams had the best shot of making it to the next level, and he made the transition while redshirting the 2000 season. The move has also made him a better all-around defensive back.

"I was coached very well by my defensive backs coach," Williams said. "It didn't look too bright from the beginning, but he just stayed patient with me because he knew I had the talent to play it. Making the transition from strong safety was probably a plus for me, because the strong safety I played in high school was more of a physical, support the run type.

"That helped me with my physical features, as far as being able to get off the blocks from wide receivers, making open field tackles, big hits and plays. Learning to play corner was basically the man-to-man, zone and learning where everybody's at on the field. Putting those two together, with playing strong safety in high school and corner in college has really helped me a lot."

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