Bulldog Bio: Aeris Williams

MSU's Aeris Williams (22)
Staff Writer

Aeris Williams has been a fixture of football in the Golden Triangle area for years.

The Mississippi State running back was a three-year starter at West Point High School. He rode that success right down Highway 82 over to MSU where he has been a centerpiece of the Bulldogs offense over the last few years.

Now about to enter his senior season for State, Williams gets one more year to delight fans in this area. With new MSU head coach Joe Moorhead bringing his explosive, multi-dimensional offensive style to Starkville in 2018, there’s a chance Williams could have his best year yet.

Solid and steady

Williams brings plenty of positive things to the table for MSU but perhaps nothing describes him better than saying he is reliable and durable.

After redshirting in his true freshman season back in 2014, Williams has played in every single State game since. That’s 39-straight games for those of you counting.

He has been consistently productive over that stretch too. He’s rarely flashy, but Williams more often than not has bruised and battered opposing defenses over the years, seemingly getting stronger as games go on.

Last season was Williams’ best in maroon and white. He led the team with 1,107 rushing yards and was tied for second on the squad with six touchdowns on the ground. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

In fact, for his entire career, Williams has steadily been good for nearly 5 yards per touch. His career average is 4.9 yards per rush. You better believe MSU could live with that for one more season.

A perfect fit?

Williams might just be an ideal player for the new offensive style Moorhead is bringing in.

Like in any offense, State’s ground game will be key, so Williams will get plenty of opportunities in that regard. However Moorhead likes stretching the field with the passing game as well. Should State go to the air a little more this season than in years of the past, Williams could still play a large role.

Williams has proven in his football-playing life that he is just fine being a receiver out of the backfield. Last year, Williams caught 16 passes for 142 yards. Those numbers could see increases this year with Moorhead’s style of play calling.

“I think it will be about the same (as last year) with the way the backs are involved in the passing game, but it will be different plays and we’ll get big hits in the passing game,” Williams said this spring.

1-2 punch

Williams’ situation is made even better by the continued development of fellow MSU running back Kylin Hill. Hill stood out as a freshman last season when he averaged 5 yards per carry, scored a pair of touchdowns and rushed for 393 yards. That might just be an appetizer for Hill’s bright future.

As Hill continues to improve, that will lessen the load on Williams, who is one of Hill’s biggest fans.

“He has really developed as a player,” Williams said of Hill this spring. “He’s better at everything – blocking, running and with his vision. He explodes through the tackle and stuff like that. He’s going to be a great running back, just like I’ve been telling everyone.”

Did you know?

Williams will forever be associated with his football success that has been based in West Point and Starkville, but his story actually began much farther northward.

West Point is Williams’ hometown, but he was born in Racine, Wisconsin, where his family lived prior to moving to the Golden Triangle.

Looking ahead

Things are lining up for Williams to have another solid to great season for Mississippi State.

He’ll have an experienced offensive line blocking for him. He’ll have a talented sidekick in the form of Hill. Plus, he’ll have the added benefits that come from defenses having to respect Moorhead’s tendencies of liking to take deep shots in the passing game. That should open up more opportunities for Williams and the MSU running game at times.

Williams’ numbers have pretty much improved across the board each season that he has been in Starkville. That trend might just continue for his final year with the Bulldogs in 2018.

(Editor's note: Leading up to the start of Mississippi State football training camp, the Starkville Daily News will take a look at several of the key pieces for the 2018 Bulldogs. Today, the SDN profiles MSU running back Aeris Williams.)