TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Jonah Williams wanted to play a game with himself prior to making the switch from right tackle to left tackle.
Williams, who primarily uses his right hand, tried to become ambidextrous.
“I would go out on the field after practice with (Alabama offensive lineman) Ross (Pierschbacher) and my buddies and play the left tackle spot, getting used to it, getting a feel for it,” Williams said. “I tried to eat and write with my left hand, get a little ambidextrous. It was smooth for me. It wasn’t a big shock.”
Writing with his left hand didn’t last long after Williams saw a grade on one of his school assignments. He can do most things with his left hand, but he understands those fine motor skills take more time to perfect. Williams’ friends occasionally remind him to put the fork in his left hand when he’s eating.
Still, Williams’ willingness to try anything to improve on the football field shows how incredibly dedicated he is to working on his craft.
Last season, Williams became just the second true freshman to start at offensive tackle for Nick Saban, joining Cam Robinson who did it in 2014.
This year, he’ll take on the task of replacing Robinson, a three-year starter at left tackle for Alabama. Robinson was an iron man who battled through multiple injuries to start all 44 games of his career.
“It’s been pretty easy for him, I think,” Pierschbacher said of Williams’ move. “He said he feels maybe even more comfortable on the left than the right which is surprising to me. He’s done a really good job. He’s the type of guy that if he sets his mind to it, he’s going to achieve it.
“He really wanted to get that left tackle spot and he’s done everything to earn it.”
It was clear Williams was a special prospect when he stepped on campus.
The 247Sports composite rated Williams as the No. 2 offensive tackle and a top-20 prospect in the country for the 2016 cycle. Williams starred at Folsom High School in California before enrolling at Alabama last January. The added benefit of participating in spring drills prior to his freshman season gave Williams the opportunity to earn a starting job.
SEC Network sideline analyst Cole Cubelic believes the position change won’t be a hard one for Williams. Cubelic studied the Crimson Tide’s offensive line closely last season and was high on Williams much of the year.
“The reason why Jonah Williams will not struggle going from right to left tackle is simple: he’s done it,” Cubelic said. “He was there vs. Chattanooga last fall which tells me he played it in practice as well. You don’t toss a guy in at a position he hasn’t practiced unless it’s an emergency. This wasn’t.
“He will also get all the spring reps and have summer and fall to prepare. His mental makeup is not one that will take this move lightly. He will be fine.”