April 26, 2011

Williams could develop into dual-threat tight end

When Sycamore beat Mason 27-24 in the team's final game of the 2010 season, the Aviators succeeded based on an old, consistent formula - running the football behind their best blocker. And for Sycamore, that player was tight end A.J. Williams ...

The 6-6, 260-pounder from Cincinnati committed to Michigan April 15 after trimming his list to a top five of U-M, Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois and Arkansas. Williams also held offers from Boston College, Louisville, N.C. State, West Virginia and Vanderbilt, and for good reason.

"The first thing about A.J. is he passes the eye test and if you watch him for a quarter or just for a few series, you understand why Michigan wanted him," Mason coach Brian Castner said. "I'm not sure what Michigan will do with him - tight end of offensive tackle - but that's sort of the point … he's versatile.

"He's got a big frame and he can grow into an even bigger body than he is now. Their coach there, Scott Dattilo, has done a great job with A.J., really harnessing that kid's strengths and working them into the framework of what they want to do offensively."

What they want to do is run the football. Sycamore quarterbacks combined for only 489 yards passing in 2010 as the 6-4 Aviators focused on a ground game.

"They had injuries at quarterback and when they lost their No. 1, they went into a running formation and ran a lot of the Wildcat against us the whole game and ran behind A.J., and it was pretty hard to stop," Castner said.

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges like Williams in the role of a run-blocking tight end that can also catch a few passes here and there. Redshirt junior tight end Brandon Moore is the closest player comparison on the current U-M roster, though, someone like Bill Seymour (6-3, 252 pounds), who played from 1998-2001 and had just nine career receptions before a breakout senior season (27 grabs), might be a more apt comparison.

Williams had just two receptions a year ago for 22 yards, but he has the potential to be a receiving as well as a blocking tight end.

"He's in an offense that doesn't throw a whole lot but he does get plenty of practice as a blocker so that if that's the role Michigan wants for him, or if they bulk him up and make him an offensive tackle, then he has that experience," Castner said. "But you take him out and make him catch 200-300 balls a day and develop him as both and he has that potential to be a guy that can do both."

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