New Defensive Assistant Alan Williams is ready and willing to take on the demands of his first NFL post
Out behind One Buccaneer Place on Monday afternoon, Head Coach Tony Dungy had gathered the entire defensive coaching staff on the practice field for a brainstorming session.
Well, almost the entire staff.
The newest member of the Bucs' defensive coaching unit, Alan Williams, was still inside team headquarters, tending to your typical new-employee duties – contracts, insurance, office set-up, etc.
Still, Williams couldn't help but gauge the level of coaching commitment at One Buc from that scene on the back yard. It's the second day of April and the coaching staff is tinkering with an already-stellar defense well into the afternoon. No rest for the driven.
Monday was Williams first day as the Buccaneers' new defensive assistant, a position characterized by long, long hours, many of them spent in front of a monitor. He's more than ready for the hard work. In fact, he figures he hasn't heard the half of it yet.
"You never know what the job really entails until you get in and see for yourself," said Williams. "People tell you it's tons of hours and these specific responsibilities, but the way people explain it never does it justice. I found that out my first year coaching college football. I tried to find out as much as possible about it. They told me about the hours and what it was going to be like, but it was nothing like what I actually ended up doing.
"It's always more work than you ever anticipate. Even my first year, it was more than I anticipated, and I expect this to be the same."
Williams takes over the position just vacated by Kevin O'Dea, who is moving over to offensive assistant after five seasons on the defensive staff. For Williams, it is his first foray into the NFL after five years of coaching at William & Mary, his alma mater.
Before tutoring the running backs (1996-98) and defensive backs (1999-2000) at William & Mary, Williams was a standout running back for the Tribe from 1988-91. During that time, he formed a friendship with teammate Mike Tomlin, who also went on to a college coaching career before being hired as the Bucs' defensive backs coach in February. When Williams decided to seek NFL experience through the league's Minority Coaching Fellowship Program, he contacted Tomlin for help. Tomlin did him one better.
"Mike Tomlin gave me a call," said Williams. "We played together in college and he knew I was looking for an internship through the minority program at one of the (NFL) clubs. He gave me a call and said the club was interested in finding someone to be the new defensive assistant.
"I was interested. I knew about Coach (Tony) Dungy, and that made it even more intriguing to come down and find out what the job was all about."
With a defense ranked in the top ten four years running, a head coach respected around the league and a defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, regarded as one of the league's masterminds, the Buccaneer job was an easy sell for Williams.
"The word going around in the college circles is that this is a first-class organization," he said. "Coach Kiffin, defensively, is regarded as a great teacher. The defense speaks for itself, so I felt there was no better place to learn from someone who has put up great numbers on defense."
Williams already has experience working for a strong teacher, as he credits long-time Tribe Head Coach Jimmye Laycock for putting him in position to take this next step into the NFL ranks.
"I think William & Mary has a reputation of being a solid program with good coaches coming out of there," said Williams. "Our head football coach, Coach Laycock, has put out a lot of good coaches."
He gave Williams his first position in 1996 and wasn't hesitant to move the former offensive star over to the defensive side when the need arose.
"Our defensive coordinator left for Memphis, and Coach Laycock was looking for someone to take over defensive backs," said Williams. "His philosophy is, he wants people who are fairly bright and who work hard. If you have those kinds of things and know football a little bit, he can teach you the rest. He asked me if I wanted to do it, and I knew it would be a good career move. I did it for the spring, I liked it and it's really worked out for me."
Perhaps even quicker than he expected. The Minority Coaching Fellowship Program, which the Buccaneers often participate in and which interested Williams, has worked as a springboard for other NFL coaching candidates, but Williams was able to skip that step when the Bucs called. He realizes his new position will demand a lot from him, but that's exactly what he was looking for.
"I think God has a plan," said Williams. "It may not always be my plan, but this is something that my wife and I have prayed about for some time and it really fell into place."
Tampa Bay has now made four additions to their coaching staff and will have six coaches in new positions this year. In addition to Williams, O'Dea and Tomlin, the Buccaneers hired Joe Barry to coach linebackers and added Jim Caldwell to teach the quarterbacks after Clyde Christensen moved out of that position to become the new offensive coordinator.