The South team virtually put Saturday's Senior Bowl away midway through the second quarter when Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel connected with Alabama tight end/wide receiver Michael Williams on a 20-yard touchdown strike to give the South an early 14-0 lead.
What at first seemed like a quickly-developing play was actually a long work in progress. Williams beat USC safety T.J. McDonald in the type of play that NFL officials and scouts told Williams he would need to beat if he was going to succeed at the highest level.
"I realized once I got even with the safety that I had a chance," Williams told SB Nation. "E.J. laid it perfectly. I just continued to run my route and it fell in my hands. I’m just glad it was a safety that I beat because that’s what they had asked me to work on in my interviews."
Williams finished the game with 39 yards and that one touchdown – a spectacular ending to a week where he impressed scouts with his preparation for practice. When asked what had him prepared for the NFL-style practice sessions, Williams credited Alabama head coach Nick Saban for instilling a professional mindset in all of his players.
"I had a little bit of what this would be like already in my head," Williams said. "These practices are high-tempo and fast-paced and being prepared for this practice actually let me look towards the NFL Combine."
After a long season and the month-long preparation for Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game, you would think Williams would be ready to get away from football for a few days. But he’s had his mind on the Combine since before Senior Bowl week.
"I’m never tired of football," he said. "I want 10 years more of this if not even longer. I proved this week that I can do my job – blocking as a tight end -- but I hoped that I opened some eyes about what I can provide in the backfield too. I want to prove that I can be pretty versatile and do whatever a team asks me to do."