The ‘Other' Williams

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The last name ‘Williams' will undoubtedly be mentioned during UNC broadcasts all season in 2008. No offense to freshman All-America teammate Deunta Williams, but junior college transfer Melvin Williams hopes it's his name that the announcers are referring to following big hits in the secondary.

Melvin enrolled at North Carolina in January, transferring from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. Oddly enough, the newest face on the Tar Heel roster immediately becomes a member of the upperclassmen minority on a team that will have close to 60 underclassmen when the incoming freshmen arrive in Chapel Hill this summer.

But his experience at the junior college level – Williams recorded 52 tackles (28 solo), two sacks, two interceptions, two blocked kicks and a forced fumble last season – may put him into a position to compete for early playing when August rolls around.

"Anytime that you sign someone from a junior college, they obviously come in a little bit further advanced than the typical high school guy that's brand new," head coach Butch Davis said. "He's been in games, there's a little bit more of a maturity, there's a little bit more of an awareness of like, ‘I know that I've got to lift, I know that I've got to come in and study film,' as opposed to ‘I'm going to kind of read it on the run and learn as we go along.' He knows."

Williams agreed.

"It's a big advantage," the Lebanon, Tenn. product said. "I see the field better than what a freshman would see the field, and I know the game speed of college football."

Williams held down the strong safety position during his time in junior college, but he was an all-state cornerback during his days at Lebanon (Tenn.) Wilson Central High School. That ability to move around in the defensive secondary was another reason the Tar Heels pursued the four-star prospect.

"He comes in with the athleticism to potentially – and this was one of the things that was intriguing about signing him – he could be a corner and he could be a safety," Davis said. "He's had starting opportunities to do both of those. He's a very, very aggressive tackler. So from that standpoint, I think that he's going to be a good addition."

Williams indicated that the coaching staff has talked to him about potentially playing cornerback, safety and nickel back in their schemes, but he took reps on Monday just at safety – a place where he currently feels the most comfortable.

The 6-foot, 205-pounder can take some comfort in the fact that his position coach – defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Everett Withers – is also new to the football program. Williams has already adapted Withers' slogan on the defensive side of the ball as his everyday approach on and off the field.

"I love everything about what he says, his philosophy of defense – fast, quick, be on your toes and rock and roll," Williams said.

Despite having to adjust to a new coaching staff and a new classroom setting, while learning three different positions, Williams said the most difficult thing during his short time in Chapel Hill has been dealing with the strength and conditioning demands.

"The biggest transition is the workouts," Williams said. "Workouts in junior college are nothing. It wasn't anything compared to [this]. Every weekend I go to my dorm room beat up because the workouts are extreme. I'm getting used to it – every day I get better and better at the workouts. I'm not sore anymore, so that's a plus."

But with a highly-touted recruiting class arriving this summer, Williams knows that the difficulties of the spring will pay its dividends in the fall.

"I feel like it's a big thing coming in and getting used to the program, [so that] when fall comes around, I'll know everything," Williams said. "They handed me a big playbook [on Monday], and I was like, ‘Dang.' So I'm going to have to do my studying tonight."


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