Sunday, August 4, 2013

2013 Season Countdown: #28 A.J. Williams

A.J. Williams
Name: A.J. Williams
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 265 lbs.
High school: Cincinnati (OH) Sycamore
Position: Tight end
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #84
Last year: I ranked Williams #58 and said he would be a backup tight end. He played in all 13 games as a backup tight end.

Williams was an interesting case study last year, because he was going to be evidence - one way or another - about how Michigan's coaching staff thought about tight ends. Do they want big tight ends or guys who know what they're doing? Obviously, it would be nice to have both . . . but the coaches will settle for just being big. Williams hit campus around 280 lbs. and had very poor technique, but the staff ran him out there in every game. He kept getting his feet crossed up and struggled to hold at the point of attack. On top of that, he wasn't a receiving threat. He didn't catch a single pass, and the only time I remember him being targeted, Devin Gardner tried to hit him on a drag route across the middle, on which the Minnesota defender undercut the route and made a pick.

That previous paragraph makes Williams sound really bad, and that's kind of accurate. But in all honesty, he should have been redshirting; however, Rich Rodriguez's failure to consistently recruit the tight end position left Brady Hoke and company in a bad way. Last year Michigan suffered because of it. Now that Mike Kwiatkowski and Brandon Moore have graduated, Williams will presumably become the starting Y tight end. An extra year of watching himself on film and technique preparation should be very helpful; additionally, he has shed 15-20 lbs. of unnecessary weight and should be in better shape this year. While I don't expect him to be a blocking master (or much of a receiving threat), he should be improved this season. And even if he's not, there's not much competition.

Prediction: Starting Y tight end; 2 receptions, 20 yards

17 comments:

  1. Sadly, TE is yet another position that Rodriguez left serious holes at. OL, WR, the list goes on. Gotta hope Butt comes along quicker than we might expect, as it doesn't look like Williams will be making a big impact this year. If he's at least somewhat effective in blocking situations and can catch an occasional pass, that may be about all we can hope for.

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  2. Not sure you can blame Rodriguez for Barnett and Pharaoh Brown. Those are two misses on Hoke's part that have also contributed to this problem.

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    1. Both of those were rich rod recruits that hoke was handed when he started in january. Barnett stopped playing football and brown was the first to go against hokes policy. Maybe you cant blame rich rod much for those two but you cant really blame hoke at all.

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    2. @ Anonymous 10:19 a.m.

      You couldn't be wronger. Pharaoh Brown committed to Michigan in May 2011, five months after Hoke was hired. Chris Barnett was offered by Michigan after Hoke was hired. If there's blame to be given for those two, it goes entirely on Hoke.

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    3. Although to be fair barnett was a desperation pick up when Hoke was trying to salvage the class. Its on Hoke but there were unusual circumstances. Brown? Yeah that's all on Hoke with no special circumstance.

      Big Nate

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    4. Barnett wasn't a desperation guy. He had talent and they recruited him harder than most other players. He was a risk - but one worth taking given the circumstances. I don't think this is one where "blame" really needs to be handed out since the alternative was another 3-star like Tamani Carter or Russell Bellomy. Hoke was in a tough spot in 2011 thanks to the way the transition was handled. But ultimately, it's more important that the right choice was made and I think we all feel good about Brady Hoke.

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    5. Brown didn't really harm Michigan, since his scholarship just went to another kid. If he doesn't take that visit he's a Wolverine and someone like Chesson, Norfleet, or Henry isn't.

      He's a talent who Michigan wanted, but simply wanted to take a visit and was a casualty of "the policy".

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  3. If Williams is even a mediocre blocker this year, his coach deserves a raise. Freshman or not - for a big guy who came in as a blocking specialist, I thought he would at least look OK on occasion. Even though Butt is still skinny, he has the opportunity to overtake Williams this season if he does not make major improvement.

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    1. I don't really understand this line of thinking. He was essentially an extra offensive tackle. If Logan Tuley-Tillman, Erik Magnuson, etc. play(ed) as a true freshman, I doubt you would expect them to be a good blocker. They would be overmatched, just like Williams was.

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    2. I did not expect him to be good, just decent on most plays. He just got eaten up left and right, no matter how good or bad the competition. And he did not get better as the season went on. I have a couple friends who played TE at OSU in the '90's and neither were stud recruits or nearly as big as Williams. But both played as true freshmen and "blended in" as blockers in a way that Williams did not. And that is not unusual to see young TE's contribute and do OK at this level. Agree the the freshman OT's would not have looked good either, but OT is probably the toughest position on the field except for QB.

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  4. LOL

    Yes, Rodriguez FAILED to recruit a position he didn't even want to have. His inability to set Hoke up for a national contender caliber team that fits Hoke's personnel is really indicative of the worst things he did at Michigan. How could Rodriguez not see it coming? Clearly not a Michiganman.

    And by all means, the blame should continue to fall on Rodriguez for a recruit that he never spoke with (Barnett) and then a DE-recruit who didn't want to play TE for Hoke. No blame falls for Hoke on those for sure. In fact, Hoke is blameless in anything. Hoke!

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    1. There is making a valud point and then there is being a jerk about it (and Id use the word I really want but wont as I want this to post). You just did the later. Also, for a team that did inherit a decent amount of guys, RR had a stunning lack of success that gets spun to "Carr recruiting failures" despite the comparative success a lot of those guys had.

      Big Nate

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    2. Eh, you're probably right. I find the "blame everything on Rich Rodriguez" mentality frustrating, but sarcasm's not going to change anyones mind.

      I would disagree with your depiction of the inherited talent from Carr (especially at OL and QB - you can suck at one, but not both) but that was far from the biggest problem for Rodriguez. His major issue was not addressing the defensive talent soon enough, not developing the talent that was there, and all-around poor management of the defense (especially the delegation of duties to his defensive staff). Everything else could have been overcome.

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    3. You're going to say Carr left a worse situation at OL than Rodriguez?

      You can't be serious.

      Schilling - Dorenstein - Mooseman - Molk - Hyuge - Ortman - along with a slew of less notable backups - then Khoury - Barnum - Omameh - Mealer in the Rodriguez Carr fusion class. Two committed to Carr, two committed to Rodriguez.

      Hoke had 10 scholarship lineman period. This year and next year we're still going to be a little shaky on O-line with all but one of our linemen being a RS sophomores or younger.

      Schofield, Lewan, Mealer, Khoury, Barnum, Omameh, Molk, with Bryant, Miller, and Posada coming in as freshmen. That's not a good situation to be in. Khoury had one year as a back-up, Posada never made it, Bryant broke his leg, and 3 graduated after

      1 Scholarship lineman left from the 2010 and 2011 classes which Hoke snagged late, and 1 from Rodriguez: Miller. The 2011 class you could blame on Hoke, but I have problems blaming Hoke for a shitty 2011 recruiting class when he had less than 4 weeks to finish out the class. He tried grabbing Posada and Bryant; Posada left the program. In fact, of the 20 recruits we had that recruiting class, Hoke grabbed 10 in 3 weeks.

      Rodriguez had more slot receivers than defensive linemen on the roster.

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  5. Too low, he's our main TE. If I'm not mistaken the YTE plays nearly every down. There is no backup other than Paskorz or a walk-on, which is not so good.

    I get that Williams wasn't a great player his freshman year, but he plays a very important position. I'd put him in about 10 spots higher.

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  6. I truly believe that there are some Michigan fans who've blamed Rodriguez for Appalachian State in '07.

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    1. I've heard it and read it.

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