University of Alabama

Alabama football: Michael Williams gets more at home at tight end, but Colin Peek's knee getting better

Colin Peek’s knee getting better, too

By Michael Casagrande

sports@ledger-enquirer.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Eyes wide and mind racing, Michael Williams saw his season change when fellow Alabama tight end Colin Peek hit the turf Oct. 24.

In fact, Williams said he was “scared” when his thoughts got to the new role he’d have to assume with Peek suffering what turned out to be a sprained knee thanks to a freak warm-ups injury prior to the Tennessee game.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Williams said. “I had to bunker down and just get my game-mind ready.”

His role in the 7 p.m. Saturday game at Mississippi State is still up in the air with Peek continuing to improve and heel three weeks after taking the blow to his knee. Coach Nick Saban still lists Peek as day-to-day but is confident in Williams if his starter can’t go.

Against the Vols, the redshirt freshman made just one catch for 5 yards before using the following bye week to get his head straight for the LSU showdown.

“When I caught it, it felt like high school,” said Williams, who caught five touchdown passes and had 400 receiving yards as a high school senior. “It felt like I had done it before.”

He had those two weeks to practice with the first team and gain more comfort in the starter’s role so it wouldn’t be such a shock to the system.

His two catches in the SEC West-clinching win both went for first downs on Greg McElroy throws of 11 and 14 yards. It was just another step in a transition Williams successfully made from defensive end to tight end.

His 6-foot-6, 266-pound frame makes him a natural at tight end. Although he hadn’t caught a pass before the Tennessee game, Williams appeared in all seven that preceded it as more of a blocker.

Tide linebacker Cory Reamer sees plenty of Williams in practice and it’s the tight end’s lengthy arms that he said makes him so effective as a blocker.

“It’s really hard to get your hands on him,” Reamer said. “He’s got a real advantage of getting distance between you and not letting you get your hands on him. Then he can control you however he wants to.”

Whether it’s blocking or catching passes, Williams doesn’t care what he’s called upon to do. It’s all about making a contribution, he said.

“I mean, pancaking somebody and catching a touchdown pass is really the same importance to me,” he said. “If you’re helping the team, that’s what’s good.”

Coming from a smaller high school like Class 2A Pickens County, Ala., made the adjustment to the SEC an interesting process. His size lent him the ability to physically dominate as he played both sides of the ball.

By the time he was finished in high school, Rivals.com ranked him the fourth-best defensive end in the nation.

But offense was calling his name.

“When I first got here, offense was a lot more natural,” Williams said. “For me, playing defensive line to playing a linebacker position, it was kind of tough. But the tight end was more of a natural position.”

Note: Alabama running back Mark Ingram moved one step closer to one of the biggest national awards Thursday.

The sophomore was one of 10 semifinalists announced by the SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors for the Doak Walker Award, which is named for the school’s most famous football alumnus.

“It’s an honor,” Ingram said. “Every running back, since he was younger, has a goal of being the best running back in the country. Anyone who didn’t say that was a goal of his would be lying. But it’s just an honor to be considered one of the top running backs in the country. I want to thank my teammates and my offensive line because they are the reason for my success.”

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