BOULDER, CO: March 2: Assistant coach/defensive ends, University of Colorado Buffaloes coach Nick Williams on February 2, 2023. (Cliff Grassmick/staff photographer)
It wasn’t that long ago that Colorado defensive ends coach Nick Williams played college football. Because of this, he knows how to attract players’ attention.
An aspiring young coach already known for his recruiting successes, Williams routinely screens young player films of NFL stars.
“I remember being a player,” said Williams, who played for Georgia from 2008 to 2012. “(During film sessions) I wasn’t really locked in or you didn’t have my undivided attention because I was young and distracted — until you turn on an NFL tape because I saw myself there.” Watching NFL movies got me hooked.
“I know, hey, if you take a defensive ending and turn on Von Miller (film), man, you’ve got her attention now. That’s where they’re ultimately going, so I try to use NFL tape as much as possible.”
First-year CU head coach Deion Sanders has filled his coaching staff with experience. Williams doesn’t have much yet, but there’s something about him that Sanders has liked from the start and it could be his ability to relate to young players while also absorbing the knowledge of his mentors.
Following his playing career, Williams became a graduate assistant at Georgia and then joined Texas A&M as a defensive analyst before being hired at CU this winter for his first full-time coaching on-field job.
While working at Georgia, Williams met Sanders while recruiting Sanders’ sons, Shedeur and Shilo. Shedeur is now CU’s quarterback and Shilo is expected to switch this summer to play it safe for the Buffs. On that recruiting visit to Georgia, Sanders told Williams that he wanted to hire him someday.
“I can’t lie, it’s been on my mind for years and I was hoping I’d have the opportunity to come,” Williams said. “God answered those prayers and I got the call.”
Williams is much better prepared for the job now than he was then, having worked for national championship-winning coaches Kirby Smart (at Georgia) and Jimbo Fisher (at Texas A&M) in recent years. He is particularly grateful for the past two seasons at A&M.
“Coach Fisher, he’s a brilliant attacking mind,” Williams said. “I like watching movies with Coach Fisher and just hearing the offensive perspective of why they’re doing things. And then when I talk to (CU defense coordinator Charles) Kelly, his take on how to stop what they’re trying to do.
“I was in an incredible situation with Coach Fisher. I learned a lot. When I’m around Coach Fisher, I just shut up and listen. He’s really, really, really smart. And he took care of me.”
Williams even credits his mentors for his reputation as a recruiter.
“People like to say that about me, but one thing is that I had a lot of help and I had elite trainers around me to help me recruit,” he said. “It’s not just me. I have an incredible wife; She builds great relationships with many of our recruits’ parents and I have great coaches around me.”
Williams is now getting a chance to work for and learn from Sanders, who is jumping to the Power 5 level after winning SWAC Coach of the Year awards for the past two years.
“It’s challenging, but I love change and I love a challenge,” Williams said of starting a new job. “I’m with a lot of elite trainers who make my job a lot easier. If I don’t know, I can just sit back and just watch. … It’s not extremely difficult when you’re around elite trainers. My father taught me that appearing intelligent is far better than opening your mouth and removing all doubt. A lot of times I just sit back and learn by watching the older coaches who have been doing it a lot longer than I have.”
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