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The Saban Top 100: No. 14 Quinnen Williams

The Saban Top 100: No. 14 Quinnen Williams

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The Saban Top 100: No. 14 Quinnen Williams

BamaCentral is ranking the top 100 players of the Nick Saban era at Alabama over the course of the 2020 football season

14] Quinnen Williams, DT

  • Won 2018 Outland Trophy
  • 2018 Unanimous All-American
  • 2018 All-SEC
  • Third-overall pick in 2019 NFL Draft
  • Had 70 tackles (44 solo) to tie for third on the 2018 team, including 18.5 for a loss, which was second in the SEC and top-10 nationally

The term he used was “freak.”

It’s a word that was used a lot in regard to massive defensive lineman Raekwon Davis, only in this case he was using it himself to describe someone else. It’s what he starting calling former Alabama nose tackle Quinnen Williams after the redshirt sophomore earned a starting spot during the spring of 2018.

"He's very quick, knows how to use his technique,” Davis added. “He's got great ball [skills], he's good taking off on the ball, striking blocks, screening at the line of scrimmage. He's great."

Considering the way Williams played that season, when he graded out as not just one of the best defensive players on his team, but in the nation, few would argue.

“We feed off each other” Williams said about playing alongside both Davis and Isaiah Buggs, who also went on to play in the NFL. “When all of us are freaks we’re all good.”

Even a year previous few would have believed that the player wearing No. 92 would be the one to replace first-round draft pick Da’Ron Payne at the nose position in the base formation. Of course, a lot has changed during those 12 months.

When Williams arrived as part the recruiting Class of 2016 out of Wenonah High School, located just southwest of Birmingham, he was thought to be a strong-side defensive end and maybe even a candidate to play Jack, the hybrid end/linebacker spot now occupied by Anfernee Jennings.

Williams was listed as weighing 265 pounds.

He worked his way up to near 300 pounds and looked like a completely different player, regularly making a push up the middle to stifle the run and collapse the pocket.

At 6 foot 4 he was just a shade smaller than Payne during his final season (6-3, 308), but with everyone looking up at Davis few seemed to notice.

“An animal,” was how Williams described Davis. “Raekwon’s just a different human. He’s so huge and he’s so athletic to be that big and strong and never get tired. So, he’s just an animal I’ve never seen before.”

But Williams’ development between the proven Buggs and the immense Davis didn’t just key the line, maybe the entire defense.

Nose tackle wasn’t just a crucial spot horizontally, it was vertically as well because Alabama didn’t have a single returning starter in the middle of the field with two new interior linebackers and two new safeties.

If the man over the center got pushed back it could be like watching 10 bowling pins getting knocked over. That’s why the technique aspect was so important.

It turned out to be Williams’ biggest strength.

During the 2016 season he spent a lot of time working with players like Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson, top-notch defensive linemen known for their technique. Apparently, he was paying attention.

“He’s really technical, really sound,” offensive tackle Jonah Williams said. “He has great fundamentals, good hand usage, all that stuff, so he’s definitely a challenge.

“Jon was obviously a technician and I think he definitely took some of that as far as hand fighting and hand usage goes. He’s always in good position, stuff like that. He doesn’t give his chest, so it’s difficult to (go against him).”

The first strong sign that the group was working well together under the direction of new defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski happened in the spring, when the pass-rush dominated A-Day and made things miserable for the quarterbacks.

The second occurred during fall camp, when the revamped defense with at least eight new starters was expected to struggle against the veteran offense. Only that didn’t happen during the scrimmages.

"He's really played well,” Saban said about Williams. “I think he's one of the guys that I'm really proud of.

“If you look at him as a young player, how he's developed and what he's grown into, improving himself physically, having a lot of maturity, really plays with a lot of effort, really smart player. I think he's one of our most productive guys up front."

Call them Big Pooh (a nickname Buggs has always had) and Q, with the massive rock on the end that quarterbacks didn’t dare try to pass over unless going deep.

Maybe they should have gone by Freak 1, Freak 2 and Freak 3.

“He's a freak,” Davis said again about Williams. “He just is a freak.” 


The Saban Top 100 will be revealed over the course of the 2020 football season, with the top players unveiled one a day as part of BamaCentral's 25 Days of Christmas celebration.

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The series thus far:


No. 15: Dont'a Hightower

No. 16: Jerry Jeudy

No. 17: Jalen Hurts

No. 18: Reuben Foster

No. 19: Chance Warmack

No. 20: Mark Barron

No. 21: Jonah Williams

No. 22: Da'Ron Payne

No. 23: Ryan Kelly

No. 24: Landon Collins

No. 25: Cam Robinson

26-30: Terrence Cody, Calvin Ridley, Javier Arenas, Reggie Ragland, Jedrick Wills Jr.

31-35: Dee Milliner, D.J. Fluker, Marlon Humphrey, Rashad Evans, A'Shawn Robinson

36-40: Rashaan Evans, Dre Kirkpatrick, Marcell Dareus, Eddie Jackson, O.J. Howard

41-45: Courtney Upshaw, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Henry Ruggs III, Jarran Reed, Xavier McKinney

46-50: Dalvin Tomlinson, Antoine Caldwell, Kareem Jackson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Trevon Diggs

51-55: Mike Johnson, T.J. Yeldon, Ronnie Harrison, Damien Harris, JK Scott

56-60: Ross Pierschbacher, Eddie Lacy, Bradley Bozeman, Ryan Anderson, Glen Coffee

61-65: Greg McElroy, Josh Jacobs, Anfernee Jennings, James Carpenter, Kenyan Drake

66-70: Terrell Lewis, Blake Sims, Christian Miller, Irv Smith Jr., Tim Williams

71-75: Mack Wilson, ArDarius Stewart, Deionte Thompson, Raekwon Davis, Jalston Fowler

76-80: Josh Chapman, Cyrus Jones, Kevin Norwood, Isaiah Buggs, Jake Coker

81-85: Bo Scarbrough, Anthony Averett, Leigh Tiffin, Ed Stinson, DeQuan Menzie

86-90: Jesse Williams, Shaun Dion Hamilton, William Vlachos, Da'Shawn Hand, Arie Kouandjio

91-95: Nico Johnson, Wallace Gilberry, DJ Hall, Vinnie Sunseri, Quinton Dial

96-100: Trey DePriest, Damion Square, Christion Jones, John Parker Wilson, Simeon Castille 

14] Quinnen Williams, DT

  • Won 2018 Outland Trophy
  • 2018 Unanimous All-American
  • 2018 All-SEC
  • Third-overall pick in 2019 NFL Draft
  • Had 70 tackles (44 solo) to tie for third on the 2018 team, including 18.5 for a loss, which was second in the SEC and top-10 nationally
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