STARKVILLE – High school football fans in North Mississippi are very familiar with Aeris Williams.
After all, the former West Point standout rushed for 3,994 yards during his prep career en route to being named Mississippi’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior in 2013.
Next on Williams’ agenda is introducing himself to the Southeastern Conference after his redshirt freshman season at Mississippi State. He is one of four tailbacks vying for a starting job in the Bulldogs backfield in the fall.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger and a lot faster,” Williams said. “I’ve gained 13-pounds. I learned the plays and am picking up my protection. I think I’m learning a good bit from (Ashton Shumpert and Brandon Holloway) because they’re older guys who know everything. I think I’ll do good this year.”
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder has formed quite the tandem with fellow redshirt freshman back Dontavian Lee. The duo refers to themselves as the “Bang Brothers” while quarterback Dak Prescott calls them “Thunder and Lightning.”
Nicknames aside, it is hard to argue the results. Williams and Lee have combined for 67 carries for 319 yards and five touchdowns in the first two spring scrimmages while also adding eight catches for 87 yards and two more scores.
“I thought they ran the ball hard, which I already knew that would happen,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen. “It’s the other things you have to make sure that they’re ready for.”
Williams has rushed for 155 yards and one touchdown on 40 carries while hauling in five passes for 53 yards and two scores leading into the Bulldogs spring game on Saturday.
Although Williams arrived in Starkville last fall physically ready to play, he feels that redshirting aided in his adaptation to the speed of the college game.
“The redshirt year helped me out a lot because I was going against B-Mac (Benardrick McKinney) and the first team defense,” Williams said. “It helped me realize that it’s way quicker than high school and that I’m going to have to make my cuts a lot faster and keep my pads low because those guys are way bigger than high schoolers.”
Williams saw his share of suitors during the recruiting process. The former four-star prospect picked up offers from Florida State, Ole Miss and Wisconsin but decided to stay close to home and remains content with his college choice.
“I’m happy that I came here because it’s a big family base,” Williams said. “They want you to become a man and smarter on and off the field. They really build on that.”