Williams adapts to new TE duties

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia tight end Hugh Williams grew up playing offensive line in a run-heavy triple-option offense where even the receivers caught only a few passes.

So what has been the most difficult part of his offseason transition to a position that might require him to catch a pass here and there?

“The catching,” Williams said with a laugh.

The walk-on admits that he is not a natural receiver, but said scholarship tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome worked with him this summer to help him become a more complete tight end. It’s a work in progress, but Williams is becoming more comfortable with making catches and running for more than 5 yards at a time.

“They’ve been a big help with learning the schemes,” Williams said. “I’ve played offensive line my entire life. I’ve never really dealt with the passing game, but with their help, they’ve really helped me pick it up really fast.”

It’s entirely possible that Williams might see the field this fall, considering the depth issues the Bulldogs are contending with at tight end. Lynch, Rome and true freshman Ty Flournoy-Smith are the only scholarship tight ends on the roster and Rome, Smith and Williams have dealt with injuries this preseason.

Coach Mark Richt said the coaching staff expects to bring Rome back on Monday and while Williams is not fully recovered from a broken hand suffered early this month, he returned to full-contact practice on Wednesday.

Flournoy-Smith already returned from a hamstring ailment that limited him in practice for a few days, but Richt said he is experiencing typical freshman issues in picking up the offense.

“It’s so much to learn and when you’re playing with a bunch of guys that really know what they’re doing and everybody’s playing fast, it’s hard to keep pace if you’re a freshman,” Richt said. “So if he’s in there, he’s going to have to have some help from the tackle there kind of guiding him along the way.”

One player who doesn’t need much blocking assistance is Williams, which is why he could contribute this fall. Having played in three games last season at guard, Williams’ skills as a blocker could help him contribute in short-yardage and goal-line situations, according to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

“The kid can block,” Lynch said of the 6-foot-5, 241-pound Williams. “The thing about him that people are kind of throwing under the rug is he was a guy that was 250 pounds and he had to block guys like [360-pound nose guard] John Jenkins and other guys -- guys that really outweighed him sometimes by like a whole other person.”

Where Lynch and Rome have helped Williams with his pass-catching skills, Williams said he can “definitely” help his fellow tight ends with their blocking. He said he has worked with Flournoy-Smith in particular on blocking skills like hand placement, pad level and get-off -- all of which he learned while run blocking for his option offense at the Marist School in Atlanta.

And they’re happy to receive the feedback.

“There’s times where I ask him questions because he’s such a good blocker and has such good hand placement that if you were to go out there and we were to run power behind him, I don’t think we’d miss a beat,” Lynch said. “If anything, I think we’d be better off.”