Camp O'Brien: Williams Ready For Challenge

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State redshirt sophomore Julian Williams knows that he has a lot of pressure on him this season. With a sly smile, he simply says that he is ready for the challenge.

Most consider the left tackle the most important player along the offensive line, as he is usually the blindside protector of the quarterback. Julian Williams has firmly cemented his status as NC State's starting left tackle.

"I want those responsibilties," said Williams. "I feel good about it. It makes me feel good to know that the coaches think I can do the job."

Williams enrolled at NC State in 2005 as one of the top recruits in the incoming class. A three-star prospect out of New Bern (NC), he inked with the Wolfpack over offers from North Carolina, Virginia Tech, East Carolina, Notre Dame, and Maryland among others.

The Pack signed Williams, Curtis Crouch, Garrett Kline, Andy Barbee, and Jeraill McCuller in 2005, and all five offensive linemen are currently on the two-deep roster with Williams, Crouch, and McCuller locking down starting positions.

"We're excited to have our chance to play now," said Williams. "I think we're improving at those positions. We're young, but we get better everyday."

Crouch, who enters the season as a two-year starter after starting late as a true freshman, is the most experienced lineman. McCuller played minimal snaps last season, but Williams has yet to play in a college football game. The 6-foot-5, 292-pounder feels that he will get a chance to show what he can do this year, and right now he is just trying to continue improving.

"I'm just trying to get better everyday that I'm out here," said Williams. "I've been working hard in the spring and summer. I'm just trying to get better.

"I'm real confident that I can get the job done. Our coaches know what they are doing, and it makes me feel even better that they feel I'm ready to get it done."

Williams was extremely productive during spring practice. He had a chance to battle experienced defensive linemen Martrel Brown, Littleton Wright, and Willie Young on a daily basis, and he felt that he kept getting better and better.

NC State head coach Tom O'Brien said that Williams turned some heads in spring drills, and he's counting on the youngster to do the same this fall.

"He had a nice spring, and he looks like the kind of player who can handle that position," said O'Brien. "Obviously, that's a key spot, and you need one of your better athletes there. Hopefully, he can be that guy for us."

The Pack's head coach knows what he is talking about. O'Brien's background is as an offensive line coach, and during his tenure at Boston College he produced several NFL linemen, most recently Josh Beekman and James Marten.

From 1999 through the draft of 2007, Boston College produced a total of ten offensive linemen that were drafted into the NFL. This included three first rounders and six that were taken on the first day of the draft. Another lineman, Gosder Cherilus, could be a first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Equally impressive is the fact that O'Brien and offensive line coach Don Horton were able to mold relative unknowns exiting high school into NFL-caliber players.

Beekman was rated a two-star prospect and the No. 127 OL in the nation by when he exited high school in 2002. By his junior year he had emerged as an all-ACC second team selection and as a senior, was named a Walter Camp all-american. He would ultimately be drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round.

Another success story was that of Marten. He graduated from Brebeuf Jesuit High School in Indianapolis as a one-star offensive lineman according to Marten would go on to earn all-conference honors as a junior and senior at Boston College and heard his name called on the first day of the 2007 draft when Dallas selected him in the third round.

Williams is aware of O'Brien and Horton's ability to churn out quality linemen. He raves about Horton's coaching techniques.

"Their history speaks for itself," said Williams. "Coach O'Brien doesn't have to tell me that about the linemen because I know what he and coach Horton did with the linemen they coached up at Boston College.

"I love working with coach Horton. He's going to push you everyday, and you can tell that he knows what he is doing.

"He's not going to sugarcoat anything. We're getting it done at a high-speed. We're doing things like they should be done in a Divison-I program."

If the offensive line's play in the annual Red/White game is any indication, this young, but talented unit could key a strong 2007 Wolfpack offense.

Wearing red, the starting line worked primarily with Daniel Evans at quarterback and Jamelle Eugene and Andre Brown at tailback as the offense produced 377 yards passing and 225 yards on the ground.

"We played well, but we're just ready to play this season now," said Williams. "We're going to keep getting better and play hard."

Quaterback Daniel Evans (left) and Julian Williams

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