Coaches see big things ahead for linebacker-turned-defensive end

Coaches see big things ahead for linebacker-turned-defensive end


Coaches see big things ahead for linebacker-turned-defensive end


Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff saw a lot of potential in Greg Williams while watching him work out at Swinney’s football camp two summers ago. The Tigers liked him so much they decided to offer him, and the Swansea, S.C., native committed a couple of weeks later.

A linebacker in high school, Williams moved to defensive end upon his arrival to Clemson in the summer of 2019 and made strides in his development while redshirting as a true freshman last season. The former Shrine Bowl participant from Swansea High School is still fairly raw but has a better understanding of how to play the position now, and his talent really started to show up on the practice field this spring.

“That’s more of a natural position for him, where he is right now,” Swinney said of Williams following the Tigers’ lone scrimmage of spring practice on March 11. “He’s starting to flash. He’s starting to play with a high motor because he’s getting more confident. I think he’s got a bright future. I really do, if he’ll just stay the course. He’s a long way from being a polished guy, but he’s learning every day, he’s got the right work ethic and want-to, and he’s got a skill set that’s a very, very good fit for that spot.”

Williams has taken advantage of Clemson’s strength program to fill out his tall frame since he joined the team ahead of last season.

Now listed at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds on the Tigers’ official roster, Williams was lanky when he camped at Clemson in June 2018, but Swinney knew he possessed plenty of tools to work with.

“He’s just a guy we found in camp,” Swinney said. “He was a linebacker, skinny, underdeveloped, but long arms. In fact, we had him stand next to (former Clemson linebacker) Tre Lamar, and he skied over Tre. So, just big and just felt like he could be a guy that could really develop, and liked his skillset, his athleticism, his ability to move. So, just a guy we believed in, and he’s come in here and put the work in. Physically, it’s amazing, the transformation that’s happened for him since he got here.”

Williams doesn’t have much experience heading into the 2020 season, having played only 14 snaps across four game appearances during his redshirt season in 2019.

But Clemson defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall has been pleased with Williams’ progression behind the scenes and believes he has a very high ceiling after switching from linebacker to defensive end.

“When you think about that, for a guy that’s raw and never played the position, I think the sky’s the limit for him,” Hall said.

“So his potential, really, I see some great things happening for him. Naturally, he’s a physical player. Now he’s just got to get the techniques and the fundamentals right. But naturally, he’s very physical, he likes to hit, he’s not afraid of contact, which is a plus for me. You don’t want a guy that’s shying away from contact. That’s not Greg. And now, it’s really just understanding that position and being able to play fast and not play hesitant. And then he’s a smart guy, so he knows what to do, he understands the playbook. Now, it’s just a matter of just going out and get it done.”

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