Lions rookie Williams brings can-do spirit to pro level

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Antwione Williams

Allen Park — Antwione Williams is known as a versatile player, but on draft day he showed just how much so.

Williams, the linebacker out of Georgia Southern, was at his parents’ house installing a dishwasher.
Never mind Williams didn’t actually know how to do it.

He figured it out.

“Oh yeah, it’s running good,” said Williams Tuesday when asked for an update. “It was something to do. They (his parents) needed it done so I was just helping around the house while I was at the house.

“I was just glad to get it done and got the call from Detroit right afterward.

“It was a great couple of minutes.”

The way Williams went about installing the dishwasher — without any real experience doing so — somewhat shows the determination and attitude he brings to the football field.

“I’m the type of person where I don’t feel like anything is too complicated or too much of a challenge,” Williams said. “Just go ahead and dive into it and figure it out. Sometimes it might not work perfectly the first time, but you just try to fix it.”

By the way, his parents haven’t called him to fix the dishwasher.

“It’s running perfectly,” Williams said.

The Lions are counting on the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Williams to provide size and depth to the linebacker position.

Williams isn’t expected to be in the starting lineup, but is likely to be on special teams and could see some snaps given his ability to learn and liftrise his level of play against increased competition.

Last season, in Georgia Southern’s three games against its best competition, Williams had eight tackles against West Virginia, nine tackles and forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in an overtime loss to Georgia, and had 10 tackles as GSU defeated Bowling Green in the GoDaddy Bowl.

“We watched the film, and when you watch that level of football, you really want the player to jump out, like he’s dominating that level of competition,” said general manager Bob Quinn after drafting Williams. “He played very well at that level of competition, and we really thought it would translate to our league.

“He’s a versatile guy. He can blitz, he can cover, he can play the run. So at the end of the day, we thought he was a good player to add.”

Williams had a consistent and productive senior season, but felt games against those three bigger schools showed personnel directors he could compete at any level.

“I felt regardless of competition I always played really well,” Williams said. “Always stood out on the field regardless if (it was) West Virginia, Georgia or Bowling Green.

“(But those games) made me feel like, myself, I could play with anybody. It was exciting because I performed at a high level when my team needed it most and (I) made a lot of plays.

“It was a good thing for me.”

Williams has impressed with the his professional approach and diligence in the early stages, while adapting to the pro game.

The ability to play several positions will serve Williams well in the NFL.

“I feel like I bring versatility,” Williams said. “I can play anything coaches need me to play. I'm pretty much learning everything. I’m not just stuck to one position or learning just one thing.

“You need me to play MIKE (middle linebacker) this week, I can play MIKE. You need me to play SAM (strong side) the next week, I can play SAM. I feel like I’m a versatile player and can play in space.

“I move really well and I can bring that boom, too.”

Williams is excited about the upcoming Lions OTA’s (organized team activities) – and doing more learning.

“I kind of compare it to when we first got here for our rookie camps,” Williams said. “We’re going back to installing the main day one stuff and then going outside and running it.

“It’s just about making sure you improve each day. There’s always something to work on. I know I can do a great job of taking coaching and applying it on the field.”
Twitter: @tkulfan