AUBURN, Ala. — Andrew Williams was one of the final members of Auburn's 2014 signing class. And his addition wasn't set in stone until national signing day. A four-star defensive end from Eagles Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, Ga., had narrowed his choices down to three schools: Auburn, Clemson and Georgia.
In one of the more memorable announcements in recent memory, Williams made his selection by taking a hat out of a briefcase he had brought with him to the ceremony. The hat he chose had "AU" emblazoned across it, and the Tigers had their newest player. And he was quite a get: at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, he had tough to handle at the high school level. In Williams' four seasons at ELCA, the team went 48-5, winning at least 11 games each season and never losing more than two contests in a single campaign.
In 2012, the Chargers put it all together and won the Class A private state title, following that up with a semifinal berth the following year. And Williams was a key cog in that semifinal run, totaling 66 tackles (with a whopping 36 for loss) and 10 sacks as a senior.
But those numbers meant nothing once he got to Auburn last year. Williams never saw the field in 2014 as he redshirted.
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His position coach, Rodney Garner, was blunt in his assessment of what Williams needs to do to earn playing time this fall.
"He's a kid that has got to keep coming. He's got to get stronger," Garner said. "We've got to work on his pad level and work on his lower body flexibility, but he's a kid that we've just got to keep bringing on."
Williams does have one prominent person in his corner, though: Will Muschamp. The Tigers' defensive coordinator said he had "been very pleased" with Williams' progress during spring practice.
The way Muschamp saw it, Williams could be a valuable asset at both end and tackle in 2015.
"Andrew is a guy we feel like can be a good nickel rusher for us inside and also give us some length at the end position," the coach said. "He's a guy who has gained a lot of weight over a short period of time, over a year's period of time, I want to say it's been 20 pounds. Sometimes that's harder for a younger player to gain that much girth in that period of time. I've been pleased with what he's done."