Alabama's Tim Williams could be one of nation's best linebackers in 2016
It’s open season on Michigan State QB Connor Cook this week for the Alabama defense, but one pass rusher in particular stands out for the Crimson Tide.
Linebacker Tim Williams, who reportedly played in the SEC Championship Game at 260 pounds — up some 30 pounds from last year — collected 9.5 sacks this season to draw the attention of NFL scouts.
Williams said beating an offensive lineman to get to the quarterback is like a combination of birthday, Christmas and Thanksgiving.
“I feel like the quarterback is the head of the snake,” the junior from Baton Rouge, La., told reporters recently. “I feel like if I hit him, it’s got to strike a blow into their team. They wonder if he’s going to get up or not. I love getting that corner.”
After a preseason suspension in 2014, Williams upped his personal sack total by eight this season, and helped Alabama raise its nation-leading total to 46 through 13 games this fall.
Williams had two sacks against Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida, giving him nine since September.
Williams’ 9.5 sacks is tied for third in the SEC.
Alabama coach Nick Saban laid out a challenge that Williams should develop into an every-down player.
“I think that in Tim’s case, he’s got to learn how to play outside ‘backer and understand pass-coverage concepts,” Saban told reporters recently. “When he drops (into pass coverage), I’d say that’s the biggest thing that he has to develop. I think the way he’s developed in other areas, that’s something that we certainly have great hope for, that he’ll be able to do that in the next year so he can become an every-down player for us.”
With starting senior LBs Denzel Devall and Dillon Lee departing after this season, Williams — who said today that he’d return for his senior season — will be one of the most-experienced players in the Alabama front seven.
With a year to polish those skills, he’s already being mentioned among the top draft prospects in the College Football Playoff.
Until then, Williams will likely be a focal point in preparation for Cook and the Michigan State offense, which is tied for fourth in the Big Ten with only 17 sacks allowed this season.