The Wolverine

December 2015 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 37 of 162

BY MICHAEL SPATH O ffensive linemen have it easy. When those late-night food pangs come calling, the big men answer, head- ing to the fridge or calling for pizza, subs or wings. For much of his career, senior tight end A.J. Williams was guilty of feed- ing his cravings, the extra meal cost- ing him a pound or two, sometimes more. This spring, Williams weighed in at a career-high 290 pounds, look- ing more like the offensive tackle he played his senior year of high school than a skill player that could poten- tially flourish in head coach Jim Har- baugh's tight-end-friendly system. With five career college receptions to his name, Williams could have played his final season at that weight and remained primarily a blocker, rarely factoring into the passing game. He wanted more, and his head coach, knowing bodies and resources were limited this first year, needed Williams to become, at least, an op- tion in the aerial attack. He was not content to let Williams eat his way to a reduced role. "I saw somebody that was a good blocker, but he needed to improve in that area, and he needed to get faster," Harbaugh said. "There was a long process of convincing A.J. that he needed to run faster. Part of that was losing some weight. "He worked extremely hard at it. And I would say, 'Please will you run faster, A.J.,' and that seemed to help." HUNGRY TO BE HIS BEST In Harbaugh, Williams found someone that demanded more from him, wanted more for him, and the confidence the coaches offered moti- vated the Cincinnati native. "I just think when someone be- lieves in you like Coach Harbaugh does, like Coach Jay [Harbaugh], Coach [Jedd] Fisch, Coach [Tim] Drevno, and when they pull you WORTH THE WEIGHT With The Right Motivation, Tight End A.J. Williams Is Making The Most Of His Senior Year

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