Austin Williams impressed with MSU spring football practice

Austin Williams
Staff Writer

On a Mississippi State roster with a star quarterback like Nick Fitzgerald, a pair of talented running backs like Aeris Williams and Kylin Hill, as well as a pair of defensive linemen that could possibly be future early-round NFL
Draft picks in the forms of Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Austin Williams isn’t a name that many outside of Starkville have paid much attention to since the wide receiver arrived at MSU. Yet an impressive spring from the redshirt freshman has him knocking at the door to be a big piece for the 2018 Bulldogs.

“You know, we really didn't know anything about the majority of the guys from our (new coaching staff’s) perspective besides what we saw on film or from bowl prep,” first-year Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead said. “(Williams is) a guy that has jumped out a little bit and done some things.”

Williams had a pair of standout scrimmage performances for MSU over the spring. On April 7, he caught three passes for 56 yards. He followed that up with another strong showing in the annual Maroon and White Game last weekend as he hauled in a total of five passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.

Williams is crediting much of his spring success to last season, which ended up being a year of development for him as he redshirted.

“I think everybody is a competitor and everybody wants to play,” Williams said. “Looking back now, I’m happy about (redshirting). I learned so much about SEC football and how you should handle it.

“There are two sides to it. You want to be out there on the field playing, but at the same time, you get to learn from the older guys and learn how to handle yourself in the SEC. It was a good experience. Looking back, I’m glad I did it.”

While Williams’ emergence might be catching some by surprise, it’s not as though he is a completely unknown commodity. Williams had a standout prep career at Ocean Springs High School. He was rated as the state of Mississippi’s sixth-best receiver in the Class of 2017 after totaling 2,349 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns over his high school years. It might be almost time for Williams to see if that success can translate to SEC Saturdays.

Maybe Williams’ best trait is his versatility. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder settled in this spring as a slot receiver, but has the ability to play any of the wideout positions.

“We have a couple of guys that are like a Swiss army knife,” Moorhead said. “They come in there and play the X, the H or the Z and we've kinda settled (Williams) in the slot.

“He's a guy that can retain the information. He's got speed, good change of direction and excellent hands.”

The abilities of Williams may or may not be able to gain him enough notoriety this coming season to eclipse the star power several other Bulldogs have, but spring displayed Williams is apparently more than ready to play his part for Mississippi State moving forward. Heading into the offseason, Williams is pleased with his progress from the last few weeks.

“I feel like I did everything I can to better myself as a player and be able to help the team,” Williams said.