They call him “Ziggy,” and if this spring is any indication, it’s a name Alabama fans should start paying attention to.
Buried behind four first-rounders and a slew of other talented options, Xavier Williams has had to wait his turn behind a loaded receiving corps during his first three years at Alabama.
After playing in just four snaps during his redshirt season in 2018, he made it onto the field a mere 20 times the following year. Due to Alabama’s SEC-only regular season, reserve reps were once again hard to come by last year. However, Williams still managed to catch on late, recording a reception in each of the Tide’s final three games
Williams’ patience seems to be paying off this spring as the redshirt junior has heard his name mentioned several times over the past three weeks.
“Ziggy came in in my class. He’s worked hard, done everything right these last couple of years, and continues to progress,” fellow redshirt sophomore receiver Slade Bolden said last week. “I’m excited for him, and happy he’s waited his turn the way I had to wait my turn. He’s done some very good things this spring, and I’m excited for him and hope things work out in his favor.”
During Alabama’s scrimmage last week, Williams earned first-team reps alongside Bolden and Javon Baker. While the 6-foot-1, 190-pound receiver has been primarily deployed on the perimeter, he has the speed and agility to provide a threat inside at the slot position as well.
“Ziggy is kind of a jack-of-all-trades,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said during his post-practice press conference Wednesday. “He can play about all the positions and he’s pretty good doing them all. He’s got some ability to return punts, so he’s made really nice progress. He has experience, he knows what to do. I think he can always go in the game and help out whenever he’s called on.”
Williams recorded just three catches for 24 yards last season but saw his role increase a bit as the year went on. He made a career-high 24 snaps during the national championship game against Ohio State where he reeled in a 12-yard reception in the third quarter. Williams later revealed that he played the national championship game with a broken finger.
Williams came to Alabama as the No. 176 overall player and No. 32 receiver in the 2018 class. During his senior season of high school, he helped Chaminade-Madonna Prep to the Florida Class 3A state title, catching a 55-yard touchdown in the championship game.
While Williams has yet to have the opportunity to produce similar heroics so far during his college career, “Ziggy” could have his name called a bit more this season.
“Xavier has improved tremendously, mentally and physically, and I’m excited for what he has to come for this team this year,” running back Brian Robinson said last month. “I just encourage him to just keep working and stay focused on his job and what he needs to do to stay up and become a leader in the wide receiver room because we’re going to need him in that wide receiver room this year. I’m excited for Xavier. This spring, I’ll just make sure I continue to encourage him and let him know how important he is to that wide receiver room.”