Tight end A.J. Williams is a perfect 1 for 1 in his career, scoring a touchdown on his lone career reception. And while he does not anticipate keeping that pace up, he does see a bigger role for himself and the tight ends this fall.
"My role has evolved," said the 6-5, 260-pound junior. "All the tight ends have evolved. No one is one-dimensional. No one is strictly blocking. No one is strictly catching - everyone has his hand in the dirt. Everyone is standing up."
Williams was a de facto left tackle in high school and played a similar role for most of his first two seasons at Michigan, almost exclusively blocking as a tight end with a few pass routes. He always felt he could do more and is proving in fall practices the coaches can utilize him as a receiver too.
"It's capitalizing on those opportunities," he said. "When my number was called I had to show that I could actually catch the ball and that ability.
"Coming from being a left tackle in high school, my pass pro was good, but running routes was different. I just took what coach was giving me, took all the knowledge and just used it."
At the same time he's developing his own game, Williams is mentoring other tight ends, including redshirt junior Keith Heitzman, who has made the transition from strongside end to tight end.
"I've had two years to adjust to the position. He had a spring ball. What he's done is tremendous. I applaud him for that," Williams said.
"He did play tight end a little bit in high school so it wasn't all new for him. It came back to him pretty quickly. He gets his hand in the ground like he did at defensive end. He has good hands. He knows how to use them. He's not too far off [from making that full transition]."
While Michigan's tight ends are adjusting to a bigger role, everyone on offense has adopted a new mindset under first-year coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
"Aggressive," redshirt sophomore receiver Jehu Chesson said, when asked to describe the offense.
"We don't want to be passive because football is not a passive game at all. Coach Nuss is very aggressive in what he does and he's very detail oriented.
"At the end of the day, football is football. We have to be able to run the football and take shots down the field so that's what our focus is on."
Williams was asked who has impressed him among the freshmen, and had two - left tackle Mason Cole and receiver Maurice Ways.
"I've seen Mason from spring ball working hard. I've seen him come along with all the offensive linemen. You have great guys like [redshirt junior] Graham Glasgow, [redshirt sophomore Erik Magnuson, who bring him along with them. The standard for offensive linemen is so high because you're at Michigan. They bring Mason up to that standard.
"Mo is doing a great job. Being able to get out of his routes. He's doing what freshmen are supposed to do, come in and work hard."
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