Coach Saban & the Crimson Tide Accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Bobby Williams is in his ninth season in Tuscaloosa as Alabama’s tight ends coach and special teams coordinator. A veteran coach with both college and NFL experience, Williams is a member of head coach Nick Saban’s coaching staff for the fourth time in his career, also working together at Michigan State, LSU and with the Miami Dolphins.
The 2015 season saw tight end O.J. Howard rank third on the team with 602 receiving yards and tied for third in receptions with 38. Howard earned Offensive MVP honors in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game with five catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Place-kicker Adam Griffith earned second team All-SEC honors after making 23-of-32 field goals and averaging 63.2 yards on kickoffs with a career-best 55 touchbacks. JK Scott averaged 44.2 yards per punt with 21 over 50 yards and 25 inside the 20-yard line.
In 2014, Scott, a true freshman was named a finalist for the Ray Guy Award and earned All-America honors after averaging 48.0 yards per punt to lead the nation. He led the nation in percentage of punts inside the 20-yard line (54.2 percent) and net punting (44.67). Adam Griffith, in his first year as the starting place-kicker, hit 12-of-19 field goals. Christion Jones ranked 29th nationally and third in the SEC with an average of 25.0 yards. Howard led all tight ends with 15 receptions for 246 yards with Brian Vogler adding four catches for 18 yards and a score.
Williams’ developed Howard into a Freshman All-American and dangerous threat at tight end for the Crimson Tide as a true freshman. Howard averaged a team-best 19.2 yards per catch while grabbing two touchdowns. Williams’ guidance also helped Brain Vogler replace three-year starter Michael Williams at tight end with impressive results, while Jalston Fowler took over at h-back in the Tide offense. Vogler finished with eight catches for 71 yards and a touchdown, while Fowler was second on the team with five touchdown grabs on seven receptions. Senior punter Cody Mandell also flourished under Williams’ tutelage with a school-record 47.1 yard punting average on 39 attempts, while leading the nation in net punting at 42.4 yards per punt. Christion Jones ranked second in the SEC in both kickoff and punt returns, while Cade Foster handled field goal duties and connected on 12-of-17 attempts.
Williams was a nominee for the 2012 Frank Broyles Award, presented to the national assistant coach of the year. Alabama’s tight ends combination of Williams and walk-on senior Kelly Johnson performed well with 29 receptions for 222 yards and four scores. Jeremy Shelley was the only kicker in the nation to not miss a kick, going 69-for-69 on extra points and hitting all 11 of his field goals. Mandell turned in a career season with a 44.3 yards per kick average with 19 punts inside the 20-yard line and 14 punts of more than 50 yards.
In 2011, Williams’ tight end duo of Brad Smelley and Michael Williams combined for 50 receptions resulting in 547 yards. Smelley recorded a team-best four receiving touchdowns, while Williams tacked on another two scores. On special teams, Marquis Maze ranked ninth in the nation and third in the SEC, averaging 13.2 yards per punt return with one touchdown. Those numbers earned Maze a spot on the All-SEC second team as a specialist. Alabama ranked 19th in the nation in kickoff returns (24.1 ypg). The Tide allowed only 11 punts to be returned in 2011, for a total of 51 yards.
Williams was instrumental in the development of Preston Dial in 2010, as the senior had a breakout season under his tutelage. On top of his exceptional blocking abilities, Dial hauled in a career-best 25 passes for 264 yards and three scores. Michael Williams also had an outstanding 2010 season as a dominating blocker on the edge in the Alabama running game, while catching eight passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.
The veteran coach had to replace both kickers in 2010, with the losses of Leigh Tiffin and P.J. Fitzgerald. Mandell won the punting duties as a true freshman and averaged 39.2 yards per kick, knocking 13 inside the 20. Fellow freshman Foster split field goal duties with sophomore Shelley. Foster drilled seven field goals, including five over 40 yards, while Shelley handled the closer attempts. Trent Richardson ranked 29th nationally in kickoff returns and Maze was 16th in punt returns.
During the 2009 national championship season, Williams had to replace a pair of senior tight ends from the 2008 roster. The Alabama offense did not miss a beat, as Colin Peek emerged as one of the team’s top targets, earning second team Associated Press All-SEC honors with 26 catches for 313 yards and three touchdowns.
Williams also oversaw 2009 Lou Groza finalist Tiffin at place-kicker. Tiffin earned first team AP All-America status. Javier Arenas set the SEC career records for punt return yards and touchdowns. Fitzgerald had a career season for the Tide in 2009 by averaging 41.5 yards per kick, with 19 inside the 20-yard line.
The special teams in 2008 were a big weapon for the Tide under Williams. Arenas broke two punt returns for touchdowns, Tiffin was a Groza Award semifinalist and connected on 20-of-29 on field goals, while Fitzgerald had a then-career-best average of 41.1 yards per punt with 15 inside the 20. Tight ends Nick Walker and Travis McCall combined for 23 starts, the best seasons of their career in terms of production.
Williams spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons as the running backs coach with the Dolphins. In his first season, Miami averaged 118.6 yards rushing per game, the second-best figure by the team from 1985-2005.
In 2004, Williams served as the associate head coach/wide receivers coach at LSU, where he coached a pair of future NFL first-round picks in Craig Davis and Dwayne Bowe. Davis and Bowe ranked in the top 10 in the SEC for both receptions per game and receiving yards per game in 2004. Prior to LSU, Williams had a one-year stint with the Detroit Lions as wide receivers coach in 2003.
Williams followed Saban as the head coach at Michigan State and served in that post from 2000-02. He led the Spartans to a victory over Florida in the 2000 Citrus Bowl after the 1999 season in his first game as the school’s head coach. He also guided Michigan State to a 7-5 mark in 2001, his second full season as head coach. That season culminated with a victory over Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Football Classic, as he became the first coach in Michigan State history to lead his team to victories in his first two bowl appearances.
Previously an assistant on the Spartans staff from 1990-99, Williams tutored the running backs under Saban. MSU backs produced nine individual 1,000-yard rushing seasons in Williams’ 10 years in that post, led by T.J. Duckett, Atlanta’s first-round draft choice in 2002.
Williams earned his start in coaching as running backs/defensive backs coach at Ball State from 1983-84. He followed that with a five-year stint (1985-89) as offensive backfield coach at Eastern Michigan.
Williams is a 1982 graduate of Purdue, where he earned his degree in general management and was a four-year letterman for the Boilermakers. He started his career at running back before moving to the secondary and starting in his final three seasons. A tri-captain as a senior in 1981, Williams was a part of three bowl teams as a player. He then served one year (1982) as a graduate assistant at his alma mater.
A native of St. Louis, Williams and his wife Sheila have a daughter Nataly and a son Nicholas. Nataly earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and information sciences from Alabama in 2010. Nicholas played football at Alabama and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in commerce and business administration. He is currently the wide receivers and special teams assistant at Jacksonville State.