Alabama's Williams switches spot on defensive line

By John Zenor

Associated Press

Published: Friday, March 30 2012 1:27 p.m. MDT

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Jesse Williams doesn't think his duties have changed all that much in moving from defensive end to noseguard, just "a lot more crunching" and double teams.

Alabama's heavily tattooed Aussie might wind up staying put as Josh Chapman's successor in the middle of a three-man front or move back to the edge next season. Either way, he's more run-stopper than sackmaster.

And either way, he'll probably take it in stride.

"It's a bit more close quarters as far as people, a lot more crunching with a lot of different people instead of just going with the tackle or the gap," Williams said. "It's not too serious."

The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder could man the spot held by the shorter, barrel-chested All-Southeastern Conference performer Chapman and the more massive All-American Terrence Cody before him.

"We have two different body types," Williams said of Chapman. "I'm just going to try to do it the best I can to fit my body. Run around and fit blocks and do the best I can. I can't really compare myself to Josh. We're two different kind of players."

Williams, a junior college transfer who replaced Marcell Dareus, had 24 tackles last season, including four for a loss. He did move inside for the Tide's four-man fronts, while linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower racked up the majority of the sacks.

Tide coach Nick Saban said Williams has done well in the different role, but could easily move back to his old spot.

"The only difference is the (opposing blocker) has got a ball in his hand if you're playing nose," Saban said. "He's done a really good job in there. I don't know which way we'll go at the end of the spring. We feel like it's easier for us to move him back to five-technique (end) 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."

Other candidates for the key role when Alabama plays in the 3-4 are youngsters like freshman Alphonse Taylor, who enrolled in January, redshirt freshman Wilson Love and sophomore Brandon Ivory.

The 6-6 Taylor is more Cody-sized — "ginormous," Williams calls him — after reporting at 360 pounds.

Behind them, the Tide is replacing star linebackers Upshaw and Hightower and defensive backs Dre Kirkpatrick and Mark Barron, among others, from the nation's top defense.

"We're certainly not the same team, but we've reloaded at a lot of positions," Williams said. "We had a lot of good quality guys behind the guys that are leaving now. We should be good. We'll see after a couple of scrimmages where everyone fits in and how the defense shapes up."

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