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Published Sunday, April 21, 2002

Williams makes nuisance of himself in game

Linebacker takes, delivers hard hits for White team


Last modified at 11:20 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, 2002
  

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  By Mike Babcock
For the Independent

LINCOLN -- Demorrio Williams took a good lick from Dahrran Diedrick at the goal line in the closing seconds of the first half of the Nebraska football team's Red-White intrasquad game on Saturday.

Williams went down as Diedrick scored the afternoon's first touchdown.

"I didn't realize how it was," said Diedrick, who watched the replay on a HuskerVision screen. "I lowered my shoulder. Nothing was going to stop me."

Not even Williams, his friend.

"I knew he was embarrassed," Diedrick said.

But Williams didn't show it. He jumped right up, ready for more.

"He can take it," said Diedrick.

Williams dismissed the collision afterward, as part of the game.

"I always take an abusing," he said. "But I always get back up. I don't worry about stuff like that. I don't bring a lot of strength and size, but I bring a big heart."

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound transfer from Kilgore (Texas) College also brings some unique skills to weakside linebacker, and he showcased them during the game-conditions scrimmage.

He was credited with 13 tackles, including two for losses, and generally made a nuisance of himself as far as the Red team's offense was concerned.

"He's around the ball all the time," Diedrick said. "He makes us look bad. Even if he doesn't make the tackle, he's affecting the play."

Defensive coordinator Craig Bohl mentioned Williams and freshman tackle Seppo Evwaraye by name in evaluating the defensive effort on Saturday. Both played well, Bohl said.

Evwaraye had four tackles and one of three sacks in the game.

The defense -- with top-unit players on the White -- was "somewhat vanilla," said Bohl. "That's typical of spring games. But overall, we were pleased as a defensive staff. I do think there were some correctable errors."

Williams was able to correct some of the errors himself, by running down ball carriers when the offense "had everybody picked up," Bohl said. "Many of those plays would have been much bigger if he wasn't able to get there. He has the ability to get sideline to sideline."

Coach Frank Solich was similarly complimentary.

Williams is "a tough guy to block, for one, and then, he's got very good instinctiveness about him in terms of just making plays, finding the ball carrier," said Solich. "He's very good at pursuing from the backside, finding the crease in there to take the great angle and to make the play. You don't seem to out-run him."

Williams' tackle total reflected his ability to take "such great angles on you" and to "slip blocks so easily and so effectively . . . play after play after play," Solich said. "He had a great spring; there's no question about it. He's all that he was hyped up to be coming out of junior college. There's a reason he made so many tackles and did so many great things at Kilgore."

The soft-spoken Williams downplayed his performance.

"Right now, I'm not too thrilled about the situation," he said. "I feel like I played all right, but I probably never will be satisfied."

He seemed overwhelmed by all of the media attention afterward, just as he had been "a little nervous at the beginning" of the game, he said, attributing the nervousness to the size of the crowd.

Despite the weather, the announced attendance at Memorial Stadium was 31,420, about 50 times larger than the largest crowd ever to watch him play in junior college, Williams said.

Last season's Red River Bowl game in Dallas drew 500 or 600.

Williams said he plans to work on increasing his strength during the off-season so he can take on ball carriers the size of Diedrick, who is listed at 225 pounds.

After their goal-line collision, Diedrick told him, "I finally got you."

"I should have met him, but he met me," said Williams, who was undaunted by his miscalculation. "If you keep playing hard, something is going to come up for you."

His goal in the Red-White game, and during spring practice overall, was to "let the coaches know they recruited a guy that's going to make an impact," Williams said.

And all indications are he accomplished that.

His emergence hasn't been a surprise to Diedrick.

"He started like that, going 110 miles an hour," said Diedrick. "And it's not just his speed. He's really a good linebacker."



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