Williams Excited About Bulldog Backs

Aeris Williams was Mr. Football for the state of Mississippi as a high school senior. After a redshirt season in 2014, the bruising back is ready to show the Southeastern Conference just what he is capable of. With a strong spring under his belt, Williams is working towards his first college action in three short weeks.

With Josh Robinson expected to be the Bulldog bell cow last fall, Williams came in knowing that carries as a true freshman would be limited at best. The decision was made to redshirt Williams and save his eligibility for more productive situations.

Heading into fall classes, that decision appears have been a good one as the talented Williams has four years remaining and a season of college level practice under his belt.

"When I first got here, I had the mindset that I was going to play," Williams said. "Since I have the chance to play now, it's just the same. It's really just the same.

"Going out there you know you have to go get your reps, because there are other running backs behind you that are pretty good. You just have to go out there and show yourself to Coach (Greg) Knox that you can compete against the other guys."

Ashton Shumpert is expected to be the starter at tailback this fall, but Williams and signing classmate Dontavian Lee are both pushing the talented junior for playing time.

"We bring that thump to practice everyday," Williams said. "We just try to give relentless effort in everything that we do. I am more of a finesser and he's more of a thumper. That's the best way I can put it.

"Going against him, I know that he is going to give his all out there in practice. I try to go out there and do a little better than him, so that I can show them that I am competing for that spot. At the end of the day, we're teammates and we're out there to get each other better."

One of the most difficult tasks young backs have as they transition into college players, is learning to block for other players. Williams reports that it has taken some time, but he understands his role in each play when he does not have the ball in his hands.

"In high school, we just ran the ball and that's it," Williams said. "Up here, you have to protect the quarterback and protect the ball to play for Coach Knox. It's really not hard. You just have to slow yourself down and make sure that you get the block right.

"I got the playbook down pretty much. I know everything now. Last year it looked like Spanish. It was like a different language. I didn't understand nothing and I am happy that I got redshirted. That helped me learn the plays and get stronger. I was able to learn the pace of the game and get smarter."

Williams reports that it all came together for him when he was able to put his skills on display for the Mississippi State fans in Davis Wade Stadium for the first time.

"It all kind of (clicked) in the spring game," Williams said. "We were out there by ourselves and the coaches weren't out there behind us. It's better now, because you know what to do.

"That really helped, because you see a lot of people in the stands. Even though it was just a spring game, they were a lot of people there. You are really on the field and you feel like you really made it. It was really a dream come true."

The Bulldogs signed a pair of talented backs in the 2015 class that are expected to redshirt this fall. Williams reports that the pair has shown some solid play in camp thus far.

"Sometimes they mess up, but they are going to be pretty good," Williams. "Nick (Gibson) is pretty good with the cuts and Alec (Murphy) will truck you at any time. They mess up on plays, but they're young. They are going to learn as they go. "The redshirt year helped me. We went against the first team, B Mac (Bernardrick McKinney) and them. That helped us with the pace, because in high school it was a little slower. It was way faster and the guys in this league are way bigger. You just have to be smarter. It's not just about being strong. It's about beating them between your ears."

Despite Josh Robinson now making plays for the Indianapolis Colts, the Mississippi State running backs' meeting room is still pretty entertaining.

"We still have some people that like to clown up in there," Williams said. "Josh was a character. He was a pretty funny guy. It really hasn't changed that much even though he was a big part of the running back room. He taught us all so much. We just have to try and follow behind him now and make it to the next level."

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