Williams battles for starting post
By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector
Friday, August 12, 2016
Competition is so heated at East Carolina football camp this August, even the Pirates’ top returning tackler is locked in a daily battle for repetitions, and to retain the starting job he held for 10 games last season.
Jordan Williams burst onto the ECU scene last year after transferring from Shaw and walking on, and he and his No. 7 quickly became a fixture for anyone watching and anyone carrying a football in the other direction. After playing alongside program mainstay Zeek Bigger at inside linebacker last year as a sophomore, Williams now must form a new identity and land a starting job again.
“I’ve loved competition since I was a young kid,” said Williams, a 6-foot, 234-pound Fayetteville native who spent just his redshirt season at Shaw before transferring to ECU. “I think it brings out the best in me and I can see myself playing a lot better since I got competition.”
Williams has made the shift from the will side, where according to him “you just stand there and not say anything,” to the mike position, which he said commands a great deal more vocal on-the-field leadership.
By season’s end in 2015, Williams trailed only Bigger in tackles after making 81. He also had a couple of sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
After his first spring under new head coach Scottie Montgomery and coordinator Kenwick Thompson, however, Williams entered the preseason listed behind senior and fellow former walk-on Cam White. Next to them at the will spot, juniors Ray Tillman and Pat Green are also dividing reps this month.
“The position battle with Cam is one that Coach wanted to see to bring out the best in us, and it’s been going really good,” Williams said.
Montgomery has not shied away from talking about his team’s key position battles, and continued that trend after Thursday’s two-a-day session.
“Jordan Williams and Cam, they’re in a vicious battle, and every day it goes back and forth,” said Montgomery, who will oversee his first August scrimmage on Saturday. “Those guys are making plays. We’ve been very impressed with Ray Tillman, and Pat Green has been running to the ball at a high level. They know their assignments now.”
White is less experienced than the other three, but he did appear in 12 games last season and made his first career start in the season finale against Central Florida. In all, he made 27 stops, including a team-high 10 on special teams.
He said he knows how different this year will be.
“I honestly think it’s a great experience for both of us,” White said. “We’re both pushing each other. We’re both learning a lot from each other. We sit next to each other in the meeting room and we give each other tips and tricks on how to read what’s about to happen with the offense.
“I feel like it’s making the whole defense better,” White said of the tussle to be the starter. “Even though I’m locked in a position battle, I feel like everyone feels like that across the board. With our coaches, everyone needs to be at the same level. We need to have depth all across the board.”
Contact Nathan Summers at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9595 or follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.