April 22, 2009

Williams special on and off the field

What Anthony Williams does on the football field every Friday night has helped him become one of the South's most highly recruited prospects.

But there's more to Williams than just his 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame, 4.8 second 40-yard dash, or highlight reel of big hits and sacks.

Much more.

It didn't take long for head coach Steven Collins to recognize those special qualities when he took over the Union Grove program before last season.

"I think one of the biggest things coaches are attracted to is the character of Anthony," Collins said. "Everybody wants him and there's a good reason for it. This day and age, you want to make sure you're investing in a good player, a good person and a good student.

"And he's all three of those."

Collins points to Williams' work with children and adults with intellectual disabilities as just one example of his outstanding character.

"He does a lot with Special Olympics. It's something he volunteers for," said Collins. "Anthony and a few of his friends kind of help these kids. They look up to Anthony. A lot of them come around and he does a lot with them.

"We just had the Special Olympics last week and he went with them. Just to see him out there doing that tells you the kind of person he is."

Williams credits his parents for keeping him grounded and always on the right track. He said C's aren't allowed on his report cards and he learned an important lesson last fall when he was late getting home.

"My mom wouldn't let me go to football practice so I couldn't start that week," Williams said. "They just make sure I do what's right."

Collins holds early morning workouts Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Williams hasn't missed one.

"He's got a good heart. I think that carries over to his work ethic and football," Collins said. "He hasn't missed a day of weight training and is doing a little extra on his own. He's looking to be the best player he can be."

Williams, who is still filling out his long frame, currently bench presses approximately 275 pounds and has a 265-pound power clean. In addition to the school's workout program, Williams does extra work in the afternoons and speed training every Sunday.

It's that drive to always improve that has Collins excited about what Williams can do this fall after tallying approximately 80 tackles and eight sacks as a junior.

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