published Monday, August 13th, 2012

Anchoring the line Jesse Williams moves to the center of Alabama's solid defensive front

Arkansas running back Ronnie Wingo Jr., bottom,  is stopped by Alabama defensive lineman Jesse Williams (54) in this 2011 file photo of an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Arkansas running back Ronnie Wingo Jr., bottom, is stopped by Alabama defensive lineman Jesse Williams (54) in this 2011 file photo of an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Should offensive linemen wind up on top of Alabama's Jesse Williams this season, they won't be there for long.

The 6-foot-2, 320-pound senior defensive lineman, who arrived in Tuscaloosa by way of Brisbane, Australia, and Western Arizona Community College, caused a weightroom stir in late July by bench-pressing 600 pounds. His teammates quickly posted the feat on Twitter, so it didn't take long before Crimson Tide fans were marveling as well.

"It got out of hand pretty quick," Williams said. "I didn't think it would blow up that fast or that I was that popular online. I wasn't trying to make a statement."

Williams is among just four starters returning from a Crimson Tide defense that led the nation in every major statistical category. Some of the more eye-popping numbers included holding Arkansas to 17 rushing yards, holding Florida to 15 rushing yards, holding Auburn to 44 total yards through three quarters and holding LSU to 92 total yards in the BCS championship.

A defensive end last season who moved inside on passing downs in a four-man front, Williams is slated to play nose guard in his final go-around.

"It's a new position for him, but he played really well for us last year and was probably the most underrated player on our defensive team in terms of consistency and performance," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "He's very athletic for a big guy. He hasn't gotten bigger but he's gotten stronger.

"He's done a really good job at nose guard, and when it comes to holding the point and being a physical player up front, he's one of our most dominant guys."

Williams grew up playing basketball and rugby and didn't pick up football until he was 15 years old. He flourished in junior college, amassing 30 tackles, six tackles for loss and two sacks in seven games during the 2010 season.

As a starting end for all 13 games last season, Williams tallied 24 tackles and four tackles for loss.

"We have to be able to rotate as many people through as we can," Williams said. "The national championship was good, but that was last year's team. This is a totally different team. Everyone is trying to work and find their role."

And does bench-pressing 600 pounds give him clout with his fellow players that he didn't have before?

"Everyone on our team is strong," Williams said. "I just happened to hit a number that people don't see very often."

Resuming today

Alabama took Sunday off following Saturday's scrimmage in which quarterback AJ McCarron completed 19 of 29 passes for 222 yards and a 6-yard touchdown to freshman Amari Cooper. Eddie Lacy rushed for 57 yards on eight carries, while linebacker Trey DePriest led the defense with five tackles and an interception.

The Crimson Tide will hold their third two-a-day practice today.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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