During an open scrimmage on April 9 at Folsom Field, it was tough to miss No. 58 coming around the edge and making plays in the backfield.
“Just doing my job,” Colorado sophomore outside linebacker Alvin Williams said. “It’s always fun to do your job, return to that childhood game you played back in the backyard. Coming off the ball and getting that sack, you get super excited. Me wearing the 58 in Colorado, I feel like Von Miller every time I get a sack.”
While Miller is no longer starring for the Denver Broncos – he’s now gearing up for his first season with the Buffalo Bills – Williams is continuing his pursuit of being like the future Hall of Famer.
“That’s where I get most of my moves from, either Von Miller or Khalil Mack,” Williams said. “I’ve been watching Chandler Jones lately, too, just working on the ghost moves and just seeing how guys in league (work).”
Last season, only three teams in the country had fewer sacks than the Buffs (13, 1.08 per game) and they were 107th nationally in tackles for loss (59, 4.92 per game). Then, they lost their best edge rusher, Carson Wells, to graduation.
This year, the Buffs are banking on several players, including Williams, taking their game to a new level so they can improve on the edge.
Senior Guy Thomas is arguably the leader of the group, but the development of Williams, Devin Grant and other young players are crucial for the Buffs.
“He has been here a couple of years with me and, yes, he’s still a young player in terms of his years, but he’s been around and been in our system for a good bit of time,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “So it’s good to see those guys kind of step up and let their natural instincts go a little bit more because they’re confident that they know what they’re doing.”
Williams came to CU in 2020 from Cedar Grove (Ga.) High School, where he had a monster senior season. He helped Cedar Grove to three state titles, including his senior year when he had 104 tackles, 14.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss.
So far at CU, Williams has been a special teams contributor. He played all six games in 2020, all on special teams. Last year, after an early-season injury, he played in five games, including 38 snaps on defense.
He took a big step forward this spring and gives credit to defensive coordinator Chris Wilson, who shifted over from coaching defensive line to outside linebackers this year.
“Coach Wilson is just really grinding the technique and effort out of me,” Williams said. “People know I’ve got a great motor. I just rely more on my talent than my technique sometimes, but this year has been really different. He says, ‘Forget the talent part; we’re all talented out here. Let’s work on technique.’ Every day coming in here knowing I’m competing for a starting position just helps me work harder.
“I’m really excited, just taking it one step at a time. Not getting too high, not getting too low; just taking each opportunity and running with it.”
Opportunity is there for Williams in part because Wells is gone, but Williams admits he misses his former teammate, who signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this week.
“I know people are saying Carson gone is a big opportunity, but I’m kind of sad,” Williams said. “Big brother in the room; of course, big guy. He’s always been a mentor, always love him to death. But he left something with me and Devin when he left and just told us to go be the best us. We’re not trying to be him. We’re not trying to be nobody else. We’re just trying to be the best us.”