Finally, a home

Alex Williams had become somewhat of a nomad of a football player in his first three college seasons, wandering from position to position.

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt couldn't find a place for him. There was no "home" for Williams, the physically impressive redshirt sophomore splitting time at defensive end, linebacker and then wide receiver last season.

Williams, who broke his leg as a freshman, always had the measurables to play football at the collegiate level, standing 6-foot-4, 233 pounds. And he never lacked athleticism, his basketball background as a prep standout at Florida A&M University High School in Tallahassee, Fla., the proof.

"At first it was (frustrating)," Williams said of the constant moving around. "I broke my leg my freshman year, so I knew I couldn't do too much. But last year, it was (frustrating). But I kept on listening to coach; he said he was going to finally find a home for me. I like it where I'm at."

Williams is a tight end now, an experiment brought about by necessity with Ole Miss sorely lacking at the position. Ferbia Allen – the team's starter last season -- and Williams are the only notable tight ends going through spring practices. Z. Mason left the team earlier this month.

Williams (pictured right) is adjusting to tight end this spring
Chuck Rounsaville
"I love tight end," Williams said. "Coach Nutt finally found a place for me, and I think I'm going to do pretty good (there)."

"Alex is having to learn on the fly," tight ends coach James Shibest said. "When he gets something, he's pretty good, but he's not instinctive to the position yet. It will take time, but I like his start."

Nutt was initially worried that Williams wouldn't be able to handle the blocking aspect of playing tight end. However, after a week and a half of practices, the fourth-year head coach has been pleasantly surprised with Williams' progress.

"He just continues to get better," Nutt said. "He's found a home. I didn't think he was going to be able to block. I know he can run routes. But this guy can really move his feet, he's put on some weight, he's really doing a good job fundamentally.

"He's got a home now. He's going to help us."

Williams said learning the nuances of the position have come rather easily, crediting his basketball instincts for helping him along.

"It's been the easiest to learn because, I guess, my instincts, coming from basketball. I'm doing basketball techniques playing tight end," he said. "It's a lot easier than receiver, linebacker, (defensive) end, all that. It's natural."

And it didn't hurt that he spent some time at defensive end.

"D-end helped me a lot playing tight end. You know a lot of what the d-end's going to do," he said. "You know a lot about d-line techniques and stuff, and you know what's hard for a d-lineman to adjust to. So you do those things, (and) it helps with the added weight (strength and conditioning) Coach (Don) Decker helped me put on. It's getting better every day."

Williams hasn't lost his love for basketball, despite his again promising future in football.

He was glued to his television Monday night as Butler and Connecticut challenged for a national championship. Williams had a vested interest. His former AAU teammate, Butler forward Khyle Marshall, was on the court.

"I talk to Coach Nutt all the time. He keeps me straight, telling me I got a bright future where I'm at," he said. "Plus, I got to watch some of my old teammates play for Butler.

"I'm good."


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