Jan. 5, 2010
Ashley Walker, Texas Media Relations
Being a starting sophomore on one of the nation’s top secondaries might seem like tall order to fill especially when your defensive back teammates are also underclassmen.
However, CB Aaron Williams attests the unit’s success to the fact that they’ve gone through growth together as a family.
Williams, along with fellow sophomores Earl Thomas and Blake Gideon may make for a youthful backfield, but it is one that can also be described experienced.
“Coming in as a group of freshman, people kept saying we were really young and didn’t know what we were doing,” Williams said. “But we have grown up since last year. We try to excel as much as possible and I feel like we’re doing better job than last year.”
Growing up can be hard to do when you’re almost 2,500 miles away from the state where you were born and where the majority of your extended family still resides.
“I have a ton of family in California, from L.A. to the Bay Area, basically all up and down the state,” said Williams, who was born in San Jose.
Williams lived in the Golden State for 11 years before making the move to Texas and later joining the Longhorn family.
The closeness of the youthful secondary has helped the group be successful since they’re all learning and growing together.
“It helps a lot because there’s not any individualism on the defensive back squad,” Williams said. “When you’re young, you grow from your mistakes, and we all help each other no matter what position we’re playing.”
Despite their youth, the group has made a huge impact for the Longhorns this year in stopping opposing offenses as they have helped account for 24 interceptions, tied for first in the NCAA and up from six total in 2008 and are tied for second in the nation in turnovers gained.
Williams alone has compiled 41 tackles (23 solo), two sacks, six tackles for loss, three pressures, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
“It’s great to be young and have an impact,” Williams said. “One of main goals this year was to get more turnovers because last year we didn’t do as well in that area. Now we’ve accomplished our goal, I mean we still have another game and we’ll get more turnovers, but it feels really good to have reached our goal.”
The defensive back group is led by assistant coach Duane Akina, whose fatherly personality has guided Williams not only on the field but off as well.
“Coach Akina goes out of his way to help us out,” Williams said. “He takes time out of his life from his family and kids to help us out, which I greatly appreciate it. Whenever you call him, it doesn’t even have to be about football, it could be about personal things, he has your back. You can go to him for anything, I consider him like another dad. He’s there no matter what.”
When his teammates and coaches found out they’d be playing in the BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl in California, Williams was excited to have the opportunity to unite his Longhorn family with his relatives on the west coast.
“It’s been a lot of fun, getting to go to your old restaurants that you went to as a little kid,” Williams said. “I’m trying to get as much family to come and see me before I go back. Just to see the old family members and friends I used to hang out with is pretty great.”
Whether it’s due to being back in California or the closeness of his secondary corps, Williams has continued to build on his experience and knows what to do heading into Thursday’s match up with Alabama.
“Basically I’ve just to go out there and have fun,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a great experience.”