Work ethic of Williams pays off for him, MSU

MSU's Aeris Williams (27)
By: 
JOEL COLEMAN
Staff Writer

Not long ago, Aeris Williams was sitting in an industrial technology class at Mississippi State.
The Bulldog running back was looking at his phone instead of paying attention.
Williams wasn’t scrolling through Facebook or checking his Instagram though. The West Point native was watching game film, determined to improve his game on the field.
“Guys like (former MSU running backs) Boobie Dixon and Josh Robinson would come back (to campus) and I’d ask them what I needed to do to be better and they said watch film,” Williams said. “When you watch film, you can go hard sometimes and when you do, you’ll get about 20 yards. When you don’t go hard, you might only get 5 or 6 yards. You can see all that just watching film and knowing where the ball is going to hit before it even starts.”
Williams’ teacher didn’t take too kindly to the impromptu, in-class football film session that day.
“He asked me to put my phone up and I just said, ‘Yes sir,’” Williams recalled. “(School) is important too, so I put it up. You’ve got to respect him, too, and respect the class.”
While Williams’ coaches would surely prefer their star tailback to pick better times to watch film, it’s Williams’ work ethic that has finally placed him at the top of MSU’s depth chart. It’s a spot Williams essentially won in the latter stages of last season.
Williams ran for 720 yards and four touchdowns last year. Of that total, 514 yards and three scores came in the season’s last five games. That’s when Williams said he began to feel like his time had finally come to be MSU’s premier rushing threat at running back.
“It happened at the end of the season when I started getting more carries and started really getting the feel of the game,” Williams said. “I started to get respect from my teammates and they were depending on me.”
Williams’ newfound confidence is obvious to anyone around him. Earlier in his career, Williams seemed uncomfortable with attention from the media. His answers to questions were always respectful, but usually short. Now, he’s all smiles and seems to enjoy the experience.
On the field, Mississippi State running backs coach Greg Knox says Williams’ confidence has allowed him to become dominant. Knox attributes it all to the determination and work ethic like what was on display that day when Williams was watching film in the classroom.
“He just got in and studied more to make sure he knew exactly what he was doing,” Knox said of the process behind Williams breaking out. “When he got smarter, he got better and I tell all the guys that. If you want to become a better player, you have to become a smarter player. The smarter you are, the better player you will be. That is the bottom line and (Williams) did that. He became smarter and he became better. It showed.”
Williams says he isn’t done making strides forward. That’s apparent physically already. Williams is about 10 pounds heavier than he was last season and thinks the added strength will make him even tougher to bring down come the fall.
“It’s going to be hard to stop me this year," Williams said. "I’m not going to lie."
Three years into his MSU career Williams finally talks like, looks like and performs like the running back the Bulldogs believed they were getting when Williams signed with them as a four-star recruit in 2014. All that brings expectations though.
That’s no problem for Williams. Williams is prepared for the pressure. The work he’s put in has made sure of that.
“I’m ready to take everything that comes with it,” Williams said. “I’m prepared. I’m ready.”

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