Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Is Ryan Williams the next best thing in Alabama football?

Courtesy of Alabama Football via Instagram
Ryan Williams announcing his commitment to UA.

It is not often a player is nicknamed Hollywood, but Alabama wide receiver signee Ryan Williams fits that billing. He started playing football at a young age and around the age of 6, he earned the nickname due to his standout performances on the field.  

“Basically, when he was little, you know, he used to put on a show, he had like fantasy draft numbers, like five or six touchdowns a game,” Williams’ father, Ryan Williams Sr., told the Tuscaloosa News.”So, it started off in the house, we called him Hollywood. Eventually, the neighborhood, eventually the city [caught on] and it stuck every time he got on the field.” 

Williams, hailing from Saraland, Alabama, was one of the most sought-after in-state recruits in recent memory. Williams Sr. played college football at in-state rival Auburn.  

The younger Williams, a five-star-prospect, is the only two-time winner of Alabama’s Mr. Football award. He originally committed to Alabama in October 2021, but after the abrupt departure of head coach Nick Saban, Williams de-committed from the Crimson Tide and reopened his recruitment.  

Williams took visits to Texas A&M and his dad’s alma mater, Auburn. Williams also took two visits to Tuscaloosa to meet with the unfamiliar staff. After a strong push from new head coach Kalen DeBoer, he recommitted to the Crimson Tide, and signed with Alabama on signing day, which happened to fall on his 17th birthday. 

In an interview with Tide 100.9, DeBoer said that Williams’s skill set is one of the more special ones he has seen. 

“He’s one of the most, just dynamic guys I’ve ever seen at receiver,” DeBoer said. “Just getting the ball in his hands, he can do it on short throws and quicker-type routes, and he can do it down the field. He is good in every way.” 

Long before Williams’ commitment, Alabama had started to become a place where the next generation of wide receivers get their start before jumping into the league. From Julio Jones and Amari Cooper to former Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, under Saban, the Crimson Tide became considered by some to be WRU, short for Wide Receiver University. 

However, the last two seasons have been up and down, with Jermaine Burton being the only consistent wide receiver in that span. With Saban’s retirement and the arrival of DeBoer, who produced multiple all-conference caliber receivers at Washington, WRU hopes to rise again. 

DeBoer brought along assistant head coach JaMarcus Shephard from Washington, who has a reputation of building up great college wide receivers during his previous stops at Purdue and Western Kentucky, like Rondale Moore, David Bell, and Rome Odunze. 

Shepherd inherits a wide receiver group that has lost its top players to the NFL and the transfer portal, the most notable being Isaiah Bond, the hero in the Iron Bowl who left for Texas. Players like Kendrick Law, Jalen Hale and Kobe Prentice are sticking around, though, and will get a chance to show their talent in spring practice.  

Williams will not show up in crimson until the summer, but he is already being compared to former iconic Alabama stars like Jones and Smith. When asked about being compared to Jones, Williams said, “I really accept the challenge. Because, I mean, he is a great football player, but I know I put the work in so with more work and what I am going to do in the future, I could potentially be better than him.” 

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