By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
There was only one defensive back near Malachi Dupre – and he was wearing purple and gold.
When Dupre, standing wide open near LSU’s sideline in the second quarter of the Tigers’ 2016 matchup with Jacksonville State, dropped a picture perfect pass from Danny Etling, he got an earful from that corner.
Andraez ‘Greedy’ Williams had a first-row seat for Dupre’s mishap, and Greedy isn’t one to hold back.
“I’m not afraid to speak,” Williams says. “Malachi, I thought he should’ve made the play. It was just me looking up to him as one of the top receivers here. I was just letting him know, ‘Man, them plays, we gotta have made.’”
A freshman speaking out of order? Some upperclassmen might resent the criticism of a youngster. But Williams dishes out in equal parts what he receives, and he spent the bulk of his redshirt season last year battling the likes of Dupre, Travin Dural, and D.J. Chark in practices, making them better with his knack for physical coverage and trash talk, while finding himself on the other end of plenty of hard hits and harsh words, too.
That’s why, seemingly out of nowhere, Williams has emerged this fall as LSU’s third corner – essentially a starter, given the Tigers’ proclivity for playing with five or more defensive backs. When Donte Jackson slides into the nickel spot, it’s Williams who steps into the outside corner spot opposite Kevin Toliver.
To earn that role, Williams had to surpass a number of more highly-touted prospects on the roster. He arrived in the 2016 class with Kristian Fulton (No. 2 cornerback in the country, per 247Sports) and Saivion Smith (No. 5), both of whom ranked well ahead of Williams (No. 20) in recruiting databases. Both lettered in their freshman seasons, while Williams redshirted.
“I felt a little underrated,” Williams says of his recruiting rankings. “But I knew, it was just all politics.”
Some would relish just the opportunity to suit up for LSU, patiently waiting for their time to come. Williams isn’t easily satisfied though, which is how he earned his nickname in the first place.
“I got my nickname when I was seven months,” he says. “My mom had my aunt watching me. My aunt said I was drinking a lot of milk. From there, she had named me Greedy Deedy. My mom took the Deedy off. Now I’m just Greedy.”
Though he didn’t see the field, Greedy made sure to make the most of his first year at LSU. He packed on pounds, bulking up to 185 pounds after arriving at 169. (“I’ve been eating real good,” he smiles.) He worked on his craft every week, refining his technique and developing confidence, learning from Toliver, Jackson, and Tre’Davious White, his long-time friend, and fellow Shreveport native. He demanded more from himself, which allowed him to demand more from teammates, like Dupre, who didn’t chafe at his teammate’s critiques, but, instead, listened.
“He just told me over my shoulder one day at practice, ‘I know, bro. I gotta make those plays,'” Williams says of Dupre. “They actually listened, gave me some respect and listen. The other guys were saying what I was saying.”
By the season’s end, Williams carried plenty of swagger around his 6-foot-2 frame at practice. Competition Tuesdays were his favorite. There, he’d match up with Dupre, Dural, and Chark, barking in their ears after he won battles and bouncing back for more when he lost them.
“Greedy, he definitely don’t mind getting in the driver’s seat, trying to take over,” says Chark. “I like Greedy’s attitude. You can beat him on a play, but he’s still going to come back on the next play. It’s very exciting. It makes practice fun.”
By year’s end, Williams was winning more and more of those battles, and the coaches noticed, particularly defensive backs coach Corey Raymond.
“My first year here, in the fall, during practice, Coach Raymond was telling me, ‘I can see you playing.’ He saw my potential,” Williams says. “He said in the spring he was going to give me my opportunities.”
Equipped with a more SEC-ready frame and the confidence bred by Competition Tuesdays, Williams exploded onto the scene during spring practices, leaping up the depth chart to position himself for serious playing time this fall. Smith’s summer transfer solidified his standing as LSU’s third corner, a role few expected he’d have so soon in his career, but one he always felt was within reach.
“I don’t really listen or get into the five-star, four-star stuff,” he says. “I know when you get here, you just show that you can play ball. Obviously, I’ve showed that. I’m the third corner on the depth chart, and I’m ready to play ball.”