Oct. 13, 2004
ATLANTA–His initials are D.L.W., but somehow Darius Lenard Williams got tagged with the nickname “D.A.” as a child, and the Georgia Tech tight end has carried the moniker with him all the way through college.
“D.A. is just something I got stuck with,” he said. “It really doesn’t mean anything. My middle name doesn’t begin with an `A.’ When I was younger we gave everybody in the neighborhood nicknames and they gave me D.A. I guess it was because `D’ and `A’ are the first two letters of my first name. Since then it has just stuck with me, and when I came here, people heard it and just kept calling me D.A.”
And this season, after four years of waiting his turn and not knowing if his opportunity would ever come, everyone is also calling the fifth-year senior “Georgia Tech’s starting tight end.” That’s how he will be announced Saturday as the Yellow Jackets (3-2, 2-2 ACC) host Duke (1-4, 0-2 ACC) in an Atlantic Coast Conference game that kicks off at 12 noon at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field.
While Williams, who has caught two passes for 21 yards this fall, and his teammates have certainly learned valuable lessons from last year’s heartbreaking loss at Duke, they know the revenge factor can only take them so far.
“Losing last year’s game can only motivate you to prepare until the first snap,” said Williams, who was recruited from Atlanta’s Avondale High School by current Duke assistant coach David Kelly.
“After the first snap you have to play football and things like revenge and motivation only helps me for preparation. When the ball snaps I really can’t think about it because I have to be focused on making plays.”
That the 6-6, 270-pound Williams is getting his chance to make plays at tight end is not something that he, or head coach Chan Gailey, takes for granted.
“He has really stepped up to a higher plain than I thought he would coming out of fall camp, to be honest with you,” said Gailey. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen at that position, and he has gone on the field and performed well. He has hung in there and fought.
“At one time, he was about six pounds from being an offensive tackle. He got so big, but he didn’t want to move so he lost the weight. He has come back and is playing really well. It is a lesson in patience and perseverance.”
Williams’ patience began to pay dividends last fall as he saw action as a backup to all-ACC tight end John Paul Foschi, now with the Minnesota Vikings. Williams’ biggest play of the season was an 28-yard reception in Tech’s victory over Auburn. He finished the season with just three catches for 37 yards, but he earned extensive playing time in two-tight end sets.
Gailey said, “He performed on a consistent basis [in practice], and then he got into games and played even more consistently in games. He is such a great effort guy. He gives you everything he’s got when he is on the field.”
Williams explains it a little differently.
“Last year, when I started playing a lot I felt I was getting better and better each game and this year I was ready to explode.
“One of my friends calls me a junkyard dog because I have so much built up aggression from all the years I didn’t play that when I get on the field now its like a junkyard dog that got loose.”
Does that mean his moniker should be J.D. instead of D.A.?