“(Donte Jackson) told me, ‘They’re going to throw at you.’ So, I was ready for it. I took that strong into my mind and just expected the ball to come to me every time they threw it.”

At this time a year ago Andraez Williams was trying to make a name for himself in the LSU secondary.

He was a redshirt freshman battling for playing time on a team that calls itself DBU for its success in producing NFL-caliber defensive backs.

Williams not only wound up starting all 13 games at left cornerback, he took advantage of the opportunity presented by playing across from future NFL Draft choice Donte Jackson. Opposing offenses looked at the speedy, talented and experienced Jackson and figured it made sense to take aim at the freshman.

It turned out it didn’t make as much sense as it might have seemed at first. Williams made them pay, living up to his childhood nickname of Greedy by making 6 interceptions to share the SEC lead.

His grandmother gave him the nickname as a baby because of how much milk he liked to drink, and he proved to be just as insatiable at DBU as he also led the SEC in pass breakups (11).

Now Williams is playing the role that Jackson filled last season as a top NFL prospect that opposing teams want to avoid. He’s projected as a high first-round choice if he decides to enter next April’s draft.

Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Williams was in the right place at the right time throughout last season, a trait that first surfaced as he unexpectedly started the season opener against BYU in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Kevin Tolliver II was the projected starter alongside Jackson, but he was suspended for the opener and Williams was tabbed to replace him.

His greediness for the football showed early on as he made an interception that set up a touchdown that gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead on their way to a dominant 27-0 triumph.

“When I came here and played that first game, nobody knew me,” Williams said. “It was an opportunity that came up, so I did what I had to do. (Jackson) told me, ‘They’re going to throw at you.’ So, I was ready for it. I took that strong into my mind and just expected the ball to come to me every time they threw it.”

Williams stayed in the starting lineup and proved to be a faster learner than opposing play-callers were.

He made another interception a week later in a win against Chattanooga and followed that with another in a win against Syracuse. He also had interceptions in wins against Arkansas and Texas A&M and the Citrus Bowl loss to against Notre Dame.

“I don’t think they ever stopped picking on me,” Williams said. “It was an ongoing thing.”

So was his standout play as he finished with 17 passes defended and 38 tackles.

Williams missed the Tigers’ first preseason scrimmage earlier this month and some practice time because of an undisclosed injury, but he was back on the field for a scrimmage that the defense dominated last Saturday.

LSU is in a similar situation to last preseason as it searches for the cornerback who will join the NFL prospect in the starting lineup. Last season it was Williams starting opposite Jackson. This year it could be sophomore Kary Vincent Jr., graduate transfer Terrence Alexander (Stanford), sophomore Jontre Kirklin or true freshman Kelvin Joseph lining up with Williams.

“It’s great competition,” Williams said. “Right now, anyone could be the other No. 1 corner. Everybody’s competing at a high level. They’re even competing with me.”

Now that Williams has made a name for himself, it’s time for him to act as Jackson did last season.

“Now, I’m going to tell those guys,” Williams said, “‘they’re going to throw at you, bro. It’s your time. It’s your time to make a name for yourself.’”