Lobos counting on Williams to anchor defense
By Jimmy Carter firstname.lastname@example.org
Aug. 22, 2012 at 11 p.m.
Longview doesn't have any big question marks on defense.
The Lobos do have a big presence on their defensive line.
Senior nose guard Cornelius Williams is entering his third season as a varsity starter and will again anchor the Longview defense. At 5-foot-11 and 290 pounds, Williams is an imposing matchup for opposing offensive linemen.
"He's the cornerstone of our defense," defensive coordinator Casey Pearce said. "He's one of the guys we depend on to get everything done. His leadership is quiet, but effective."
Williams started as a sophomore on the Lobos' 2010 state semifinal team. He had a breakout junior season last fall, racking up 54 tackles, including 10 tackles-for-loss.
"It's extremely comforting to have him," defensive line coach Mark Peters said. "He's a guy that you don't have to coach a bunch. If it's something he needs to fix, it's just a tweak and you only have to tell him once.
"He's very football savvy. He's a pleasure to coach and he makes guys around him better."
Williams hopes a strong senior season could help him earn a scholarship offer. He has camped at SMU and Army has also expressed interest.
"If he was 6-foot-2, everybody in the world would be in here recruiting him," Peters said. "He runs well for a big guy. He's very good with his hands and he plays great technique."
Williams didn't slack over the summer despite being entrenched on the defensive line.
He worked hard in the weight room, participating in offseason workouts that culminated in him power-cleaning a team-best 315 pounds. He also passed the Lobos rigorous annual preseason conditioning test.
"Passing the test is pretty tough," coach John King said. "He is not one of those that flunked and I think that said a lot about his commitment. I believe he's passed every year. That should tell you the ability he has, plus the mental toughness.
"He's just held the point for us a couple years."
Williams has always been one of the biggest and strongest players on the field. Learning to rely on technique instead of using his size to try to overpower offensive linemen helped him produce at a high level last year.
"Throughout middle school I never really had to use my hands because I was bigger than everybody," Williams said. "Then when I started working out my hands and learning to strike first, then play with leverage."
Williams and defensive end Jalen Porter have started together on the line since their sophomore season. The duo has taken charge of the group now that they are the seasoned veterans.
"Me and Jalen have had to step up and be leaders," Williams said. "We go first in all the drills and get with them after they do something wrong to explain it to them."
Williams and Porter are part of a Longview defense that returns eight starters and is expected to be one of the top units in Class 5A.
"On defense, we're pretty sick," Williams said. "We've got mostly everybody back. We have people who've played a lot the last few years. We play together, run to the ball and have good coaching. Winning state is what we're trying for if we stay together and stay healthy."
NOTES: Senior defensive end Xavier Mitchell (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) is no longer a part of the team. He was listed as a starter and had 25 tackles last season. "That was his decision," King said. "He was not removed." … King said junior starting offensive lineman Zaycoven Henderson will play both ways and will be one of the players rotating at Mitchell's spot. Zachary Anderson, KD Sanders and Roderick Alexander will also see time at the position … Starting safeties Stephan Maxey (knee) and Corey Bartley (dehydration) have both returned to practice this week after missing the intrasquad scrimmage Saturday.