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NU FOOTBALL: Williams shines for defense
BYSTEVEN M. SIPPLE / Lincoln Journal Star
The big crowd made him a little nervous.

After all, Nebraska weakside linebacker Demorrio Williams said he'd never played in front of more than 600 people.

But Saturday, a crowd of 31,420 streamed into Memorial Stadium for the Red-White Spring Game. Many left the scrimmage talking about Williams, who finished with a team-best 13 tackles, including two for losses.

"I feel like playing in front of all those folks takes my game to another level,"said the junior transfer from Kilgore (Texas) College.

A native of Beckville, Texas, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Williams said he can play better than he did Saturday.

"I probably never will be satisfied," he said.

Nebraska's coaches were more than satisfied with Williams' performance, with head coach Frank Solich praising the linebacker's instincts and ability to slip blocks. Defensive coordinator Craig Bohl likes Williams' speed and pursuit of the ball from sideline to sideline.

"He's had a good spring, no question about it,"Solich said. "He's all he was hyped up to be."

The only junior-college transfer in Nebraska's 2002 recruiting class, Williams was an honorable-mention juco All-American in 2001 and a second-team All-American in 2000. Last season he led Kilgore to a 12-0 record by recording 127 tackles, including nine sacks.

Come fall, Williams is expected to battle for the starting job at weakside linebacker with junior T.J. Hollowell, who missed all of spring practice with a shoulder injury.

"I'm the type of guy who will settle for nothing less than starting,"Williams said. "I wanted to let the coaches know I can step on the field and have an impact."

No defender had a bigger impact Saturday.

"Many of those plays he made would've been much bigger if he wasn't able to get there,"Bohl said. "Having that kind of player makes a big difference for a defense."

It wasn't all roses for Williams.

Late in the second quarter, I-back Dahrran Diedrick lowered his shoulder into Williams' chest, knocking the linebacker to the ground on a 1-yard touchdown burst. The impact of the violent collision echoed throughout the stadium.

"There was no way he was going to stuff me,"said the 230-pound Diedrick, a friend of Williams.

Said Williams:"I'm always going to get back up and keep coming."

Asked whether he had thought making 13 tackles was realistic entering Saturday's scrimmage, Williams said, "I never think about stuff like that. I just think about making the plays."

Now, Williams is thinking about ways to increase his physical strength during the summer. His best qualities are his speed and heart, he said.

Williams looks forward to fall, when 76,000-plus will pack Memorial Stadium.

"It'll be even more exciting," he said.

It's a scary thought for offenses.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.

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