Newest hire happy to be a Husky

The University of Washington made an excellent choice by naming J.D. Williams defensive backs coach, and for several reasons. First, and most importantly, they got a man who is a winner and is dedicated to making an impact in the lives of young men. His experience and knowledge will undoubtedly rub off on his players and should be able to show immediate results on the field for a team that has finished near the bottom of the conference in pass defense the past two years.

In addition, he chose to come to Washington from Cal, which says a lot about UW's tradition and about Tyrone Willingham as a leader of this program.

Lastly, the hire of Williams has gone one step further in solidifying the legacy of his brother, Curtis. Curtis Williams, of course, was a safety for Washington in 2000 when he was paralyzed making a tackle against Kerry Carter of Stanford. That season the Huskies went on to win the Rose Bowl, with Curtis serving as inspiration to his teammates. Though he passed on some two years later, Curtis Williams' legacy of strength and courage are things that will always live on in the Husky program. In hiring his older brother, coach Willingham has shown that he is not only aware of Washington's storied past, but he embraces it.

Coach Williams recently talked about his past, his football philosophies, and how excited he is to be a Husky. "I started out as a graduate assistant at Fresno State," Williams told Monday during the Huskies' pre-spring press conference. "Got the opportunity to coach at Cal Poly, was the secondary coach there. Got a couple of kids drafted from Cal Poly."

Williams then received his first Division I position joining the staff at San Jose State. "Coach (Dave) Baldwin was the coach at San Jose, and he asked me if I'd like to join his staff, so I took the opportunity to get back to Division-I football," Williams said. After about a season there, Williams returned to coach at his alma mater, Fresno State. "A position was open at Fresno State, which is my alma mater," explained Williams. "So I returned to Fresno, and I was there for about two seasons. Then, Coach (Jeff) Tedford got the opportunity to get a head job at Cal. I can remember I was on the road recruiting, and he asked me did I want to join the staff at Cal. So, I went there and I've been there for the last four years."

So what would make the coach want to come to Washington? "Coach Willingham called and spoke about the position here, and it was still a part of me," says the coach. "I felt that I was tied into this place, because of my younger brother." He said that though he was unfamiliar with the team's personnel, he was familiar with the position (defensive backs) and felt good about the position because of his ties to UW. "I think it was almost fate (for me to end up here)," he said. "When Curtis was injured, I was coaching at Fresno State. He was in the hospital there at Stanford for a while, so I took a leave from there, and I'd stay in the Bay Area with him."

Williams says he took a lot from that time he spent by his brother's side. "It was good to be there," he said. "Just to be around him and enjoy all of the time I possibly could with him." One thing that really rubbed off on him was his brother's affinity for Seattle. "He had one more trip that he wanted to take, and that was to come back to Seattle, and he would talk about Seattle all the time," Williams said. "He loved the place and he loved the University of Washington. He talked about how great the people were here."

Williams explained that he had never really had the opportunity to experience that until Curtis' funeral. "When I experienced the people coming down…it was just great," he said. "Like I said, Curtis, he loved this place. I thought that it was a place that I'd like to come and visit and spend some time here. But, once the opportunity presented itself, I couldn't pass it up. We (Cal) played here the last couple years and it's always a special place to come to. I can say I'm undefeated on this field, it's a wonderful place."

Coach Williams then talked about the incredible opportunity he has to work with Tyrone Willingham. "When you think about a Tyrone Willingham coached team, that's a winning team, and it's always been a winning team," Williams said. "And to see the University of Washington down the way they have been the last year, you can tell that this team is on the rise."

He went to say how he has faith in anything that Willingham does. "Coach Willingham, he is a pillar," said Williams. "His players buy in and he's going to do it the right way. I felt that it would be great to be a part of that. Watching what he did at Notre Dame, what he did at Stanford...he's coaching guys on the right track and he's building young men who are going to be leaders in the community in the future."

Williams talked of how happy he is to be in the Pacific Northwest. "You know how you leave the airport and you go round the bend, and you see downtown (Seattle), then the water," Williams said of the Emerald City. "The first thing you think is, ‘God, this is a beautiful place.'" He then spoke about UW's rich football tradition saying, "When you think about football, the Top 5 programs in the country, Washington is always mentioned in those top five, and I see why. So it rains a little, but you can't beat the location. You can't beat the people. Like I said, Curtis loved this place and I can see why; the location, the people, the support. You can't beat that."

And although Coach Williams hadn't yet had the chance to meet with all his players he's going to be coaching at the time of this interview, he's very eager to get started. "I had the opportunity to watch a lot of film," said Williams. "We have some talent. We've just got to get it going in the right direction." He did say that he got the chance to speak to some of players before camp started, which will hopefully smooth his transition.

"I had a chance to talk to C.J. Wallace," said Williams. "I talked to Dashon Goldson. Roy Lewis came by the office. So, the guys are eager to get started." He also explained how these guys will need to step up their game if the Husky are to return to power. "When they committed to the University of Washington, they knew there were some championships coming along with that. So it's just a matter of getting their dreams to be recognized," he added.

Many Husky fans may remember Williams as the man who orchestrated Cal's lockdown defense against All-America wide receiver Reggie Williams in 2003, but what style of play will he bring to UW? "We're going to be aggressive, we're going to be physical, we're going to play smart, and we're going to play hard. That's what I demand from those kids and that's what they'll give me. Like I said, if you don't ask for a lot, they won't give you a lot," said Williams. "I'm gonna demand a lot of things, I'm going to be positive, and we're going to be aggressive."

With the Huskies entering a pivotal season for its program, and a crucial year for its head coach, newcomers like J.D. Williams will prove to be a valued addition. Confidence is all that is missing from this team. Once Washington fills its program with more people like Williams - who have winning attitudes and want to do things the right way - it will return to the winning days of it's past.

Curtis has to be smiling. Top Stories