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March 28, 2012TUSCALOOSA | The biggest returning player on the University of Alabama defensive line is putting that size to use where it's often needed most: nose guard.
Jesse Williams steadily improved as a starting defensive end throughout last season, but finds himself this spring practicing at nose guard as the Crimson Tide seeks a replacement for the graduated Josh Chapman.
"It's a little bit (different) in my technique, but we face the same sort of blocks," said Williams (6-4, 320 pounds). "Once I learned how to play end, I learned how to play most of the defensive line. It's been pretty easy to pick up so far. I played a bit of nose last year when Chap and Gent (Nick Gentry) were out a little bit."
Williams made 24 tackles last year as a junior college transfer who started in his first season at the Capstone. Williams typically faced single blocks in 2011, however. And at nose guard, he'll be challenged by more double-teaming.
"It's a bit more close quarters with a lot of people, more crunching with a lot of people instead of just going against a tackle or a guard," Williams said.
Williams enrolled early in 2011 and competed in spring practice last year, which has provided him with more familiarity in his second pass through spring drills. In fact, Williams got some practice time at nose guard last spring before settling at end in the fall. Others competing at the nose guard position include Brandon Ivory, Wilson Love and freshman Alphonse Taylor. UA coach Nick Saban said Williams has not disappointed in the role.
"He's done a really good job in there. He can play there on the 5-technique. I don't know which way we'll go at the end of the spring," Saban said. "We feel like it's easier for us to move him back to 5-technique because that's where he played all last year. So we're going to try and continue to develop guys at the other positions and he'll play most of the spring at nose."
Although Williams was at Western Arizona Community College just three semesters ago, he enters spring practice as one of the defensive line's more experienced players, and one of its only seniors. That calls for a certain amount of leadership, but Williams said his style isn't too vocal.
"I don't necessarily try and stand out and boss people around, I just try and do what I can, help as many people as I can, and lead by example," Williams said.
"I think I would run away." - D.J. Fluker on how he would react as a defensive lineman facing a double team from tackles Fluker and Cyrus Kouandjio, who sometimes line up together when UA uses an unbalanced line.
Wide receiver DeAndrew White appeared to be more involved in individual drills Wednesday. White is recovering from a hamstring problem that has limited him in recent practices. ... Running backs Eddie Lacy and Blake Sims continue to be withheld from contact, as does reserve OL Arie Kouandjio. ... Suspended wide receivers Duron Carter, Michael Bowman, and Ronald Carswell continue to miss practice. ... Visitors to Wednesday's practice included former UA defenders Jerrell Harris, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw and Dre Kirkpatrick. Also on hand were former UA offensive line coach Joe Pendry and former UA center and assistant coach Sly Croom.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.