As Oregon continues to try and return to elite status, new cornerbacks coach Donte Williams is helmed with leading a youthful secondary to success.
Steve Mims of the Register-Guard has an in-depth look at Williams’ task at developing the defensive backs for the Ducks.
New UO CB coach Donte Williams worked for Mike Riley and now Mario Cristobal. "Mike is like a father figure. Cristobal is the best friend you always wanted." https://t.co/i51hbncWRE
— Steve Mims (@SteveMims_RG) April 10, 2018
From the Register-Guard:
Williams takes over one of the most inexperienced position groups in the nation with sophomores Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir as the only cornerbacks who have played in an FBS game. Graham tied for the team lead with three interceptions and had 62 tackles while starting 12 games as a true freshman while Lenoir had 25 tackles while playing every game in a reserve role during his first year in the program.
Junior-college transfer Haki Woods and true freshman Verone McKinley III are the only other players at the position on scholarship this spring with freshman Kahlef Hailassie slated to arrive in the fall.
“It’s pretty much one guy who has played football much and another sparingly and everyone else is new,” Williams said. “They are learning football, IQ-wise. A lot of them are tremendous athletes, but not too many have played cornerback. In high school, when you play defensive back, you pretty much play offense because everyone is focused on getting the ball. So they are truly learning how to play the position.”
Williams spent last season coaching the secondary at Nebraska prior to Mike Riley’s firing.
“Donte was on everybody’s radar,” Cristobal said. “One of those guys to me, like the rest of our staff, who is a five-star guy because as a teacher, mentor, and a guy that can form relationships with our student-athletes, he is a great representative. He’s an impressive cat. A difference-maker for our program, in my opinion.”
Williams, who was in Eugene last season when the Ducks held off a comeback from Nebraska, knows it will be an uphill battle for Oregon’s secondary.
“Right now we are very thin, but our guys are out here playing,” he said. “One thing I love is the effort. You can see the want-to is there and once that is there, they will put in the extra time to get better.”