Thursday, December 20, 2012
Tracking the Tide: Michael Williams
By Alex Scarborough
Editor’s note: Each day between now and Alabama's date with Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, we will review the season for a key Crimson Tide player or coach and attempt to project what’s next for him. Today we’ll look at tight end Michael Williams.
Role in 2012: Williams was the Crimson Tide's best and arguably only reliable option at tight end this season.
The good: The redshirt senior didn't jump off the screen, but he was consistent. As he has been his entire career since moving to offense, Williams was an above-average blocker with just enough skill in space to be a threat in the passing game. He was fourth on the team with 21 receptions for 166 yards and three touchdowns. But his worth is also measured in Alabama's success running the football. Both Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon were able to rush for 1,000 yards this season thanks in no small part to Williams' efforts.
The bad: Williams never developed into the receiving threat some might have hoped for when he transitioned from defensive end to tight end. Despite having the frame (6-foot-6, 269 pounds) and athleticism (coach Nick Saban touted his skills on the basketball court) that can cause matchup problems with both linebackers and defensive backs, Williams didn't become a weapon in the way of a poor man's Tony Gonzalez or Jason Witten.
Crystal ball: Because of his skill in the running game, Williams should find a home in the NFL. He's arguably one of the best blocking tight ends in all of college football, which is something scouts and general managers value when looking for backups. As far as the question of who will step up next year, the answer is wide open. Neither sophomores Harrison Jones or Brian Vogler have separated themselves this season. Redshirt freshman Malcolm Faciane has played and has a frame (6-foot-5, 259 pounds) to grow into. Another option might be moving wide receiver Marvin Shinn inside to tight end. The 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman would have to put on weight, but he already has played some snaps at the position early in the season. Keep an eye on two Alabama commitments to make an impact right away: O.J. Howard is the No. 2 tight end prospect in the country and Josh McNeil isn't far behind at No. 4 in the ESPN 150.