Sharif Williams brings the much-needed size to the defensive line, and could be a big time contributor once he is able to get his body 100% prepared for action on the field.
It's been a rocky road for Williams to get to Arizona, but he's finally here and ready to make some moves. Coming out of Central High School (Fresno, CA), he was joined by his two teammates Devon Brewer and Nick Wilson. "That had a big influence having two friends come with me. What made me so comfortable was Coach Rod. Talking to him face to face, that was a big step and a lot different than I thought. I really like him a lot and he's a good coach," he added.
But a catastrophic knee injury kept him off the field his senior year, with doctors saying that he might never be able to play football again. Rich Rodriguez honored his scholarship, while Sharif grey shirted to bounce back from his injury. "The knee is 100% healthy. Made it through camp, no problem, no hiccups. Conditioning, I'm not saying I'm all the way there but I'm getting better."
He went through a strenuous rehab process to be able to get back on the field. "I was doing a lot of pool workouts, and ladders. A lot of rehab. not a lot of pressure stuff, but a lot of reps. A lot of reps with a little weight."
He was able to enroll in the spring and join the team early, giving him more time to learn the playbook and condition. "I was really thrown into the fire, you fly or you die," he added about the spring. "But it was really good to come in right away. They eased us into it a little bit but it helps a lot. It was good learning the playbook. Conditioning helped a lot because I couldn't do a lot [while hurt], so the extra spring helped me catch up and get back in shape."
Coming in as a 300lb nose tackle, Sharif embraces his role in a 3-3-5 defense. "I like the responsibility. You have two gaps that you have to control. I like being physical, you have double teams that you'll be taking on. The only thing I don't like is that you can't get the push rush you want, it's really hard, so you have to get really good technique in," he said about the defensive scheme.
He's seen a lot of improvement since he arrived on campus, and has been able to watch some film to critique his performance. "I like the fact that it looked like I was really pushing the pocket down, closing it down and I like the way my technique looked firing out. Things I didn't like was my conditioning, I was getting a little tired out there so I have to get that up," when asked about the film room.
As a true freshman, Williams was helped by some of the upperclassmen on the defensive line. "My man Sani (Fuimaono), Reggie Gilbert and Parker Zellers. They really taught me a lot, took me under their wing and showing me the ropes. Reggie is kind of the big brother of the whole defensive line and Sani and Parker play my position, so they really gave me some pointers and tips."
Williams noted that the brotherhood of Arizona is unparalleled, and something way better than he imagined coming into college. "Even though it's a competition for a spot, we're still brothers. I thought college was more earning your position. But here at Arizona we're all brothers and it's really natural for us to just bond and play the same position."
Sharif also has some hidden talents off the field. "I really like to grill and prepare Southern food. I want to be a chef after football so I dabble with a lot of things. I really cook a lot at my house, so I don't go out to eat a whole lot. But I'd say Bianchi's, that's a good little Italian spot," as we later got off topic about food and restaurants.