Alabama defensive lineman Jesse Williams earned the nickname “Tha Monstar” for a reason
At 6-3 ½ and 323 pounds, Williams is a powerhouse inside, demonstrated by his 600-pound bench press. But the native of Brisbane, Australia also is surprisingly agile because of his rugby and basketball background.
While players like Florida’s Sharrif Floyd, Utah’s Star Lotulelei and Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson are garnering more attention, Williams is gaining steam as a late first-round selection because of his consistent play anchoring Alabama’s national championship defense.
“I think just being physical,” Williams said, when asked to describe himself as a player. “Being a physical force at the nose at stopping the run. I like to feel I was a bit of a leader on the defensive as far as holding down the middle. It’s pretty tough position down there. And if I get knocked out of the way, it opens pretty much everything up. So it was pretty crucial for me to be down there.”
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Williams, 22, earned a second team All-SEC selection in 2012. He started 12 games, finishing with 36 tackles with 2.5 for loss, one sack, two pass deflections, four quarterback hurries and a blocked field goal.
Williams also played some fullback for Alabama on goal line situations.
He’s been compared to San Francisco’s Justin Smith and New England’s Vince Wilfork, but Williams looks to versatile Baltimore defensive lineman Haloti Ngata as a guy that he tries to emulate at the next level.
“As a player he holds himself pretty well,” Williams said. “We have similar body types. And the way he plays, his attitude toward the game, and I think his love for the game is something I strive to be as much as I can.”
For Seattle, Williams could be a player who could replace defensive tackle Alan Branch as a run stuffer in early downs if the Seahawks lose the Michigan product in free agency.
Branch conservatively will make at least $4 million annually in free agency.
Last year’s No. 25 overall pick, New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower, signed a 4-year, $7.74 million deal, $6.28 million of which was guaranteed. So a player like Williams would be a more inexpensive option to fill that role for Seattle, and he could backup Red Bryant at defensive end.
What I like about Williams is his high motor and the relentless effort that he plays with.
Williams discussed bench pressing 600 pounds last summer before his senior season at Alabama during a max workout in July.
“Man, I look pretty good,” he said, laughing. “It wasn’t anything to brag. It was a lot of guys lifting heavy on a max day during a summer workout. I mean, somebody put to photo up. And then I put the photo up on mine, and it kind of exploded from there.”
Although football is not the most popular sport in his native Australia, Williams grew up playing basketball, and gravitated toward football as a teenager.
“It’s not displayed as much as it is over here,” Williams said. “But there’s a growing popularity over there. When I was younger, the occasional game would be on, especially the Super Bowl. I would watch the Super Bowl as much as I could. But it’s sort of grown on my family down there.”
“I grew up playing a little bit of rugby, but mainly basketball,” Williams went on. “So I was kind of Americanized in the sports here already from playing basketball. And I kind of picked up football through friends that played basketball. And I kind of fell in love with it that way.”
The heavily tattooed Williams also discussed that tattoo on his head that says “Fear Is A Liar”: “For me, it’s just a constant reminder of where I’m from, what I’m about. Fear is a liar is just pushing myself and not having fear of failure and doing anything like that and trying to be the best person I can be. All these tattoos are little reminders of what I’m all about being away from my family and being on my own over here. It plays a big role with that.”