TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Jesse Williams is hoping to be the next Terrence Cody: a supersized junior college transfer who makes a big impact on Alabama's defensive line.
Williams has more tattoos, a little less girth and an accent from Down Under not Down South. But Crimson Tide fans would be ecstatic if the Australian out of Arizona Western Community College works out nearly as well as his JUCO-to-Bama predecessor on the defensive line.
The 6-foot-4, 325-pounder from Brisbane has been hearing Cody's name frequently since enrolling at Alabama in January as one of the nation's top-rated JUCO prospects.
"I've heard it actually quite a lot," said Williams, who is going through spring practice. "He did really well playing nose tackle here, and I'm looking forward to doing the same type of thing."
Mount Cody was a first-team All-America selection in each of his two seasons at Alabama, and an instant fan favorite with the help of his 350-pound plus frame and cool nickname.
Williams has the accent thing going for him. And an impressive array of tattoos on his legs, arms and chest.
And he made quite the impression on teammates even before spring practices began Monday, both in the weight room and just strolling around campus.
"We have a class together and he's quite the character," linebacker Dont'a Hightower said. "I don't think I've ever met anybody who walked to class in 20-degree weather in flip flops and shorts and a tank top."
Center William Vlachos, regarded as one of the Tide's strongest players, said Williams is a physical "specimen."
"He certainly looks the part. There's no question about that," Vlachos said. "He bench presses a lot more than I do already. The great thing about him is, he's pretty versatile. He can play noseguard, end, what you want him to play, he can probably play it.
"He runs like a deer, even as big as he is."
The versatility and speed would separate him from Cody, a space-clogging, dominating force in Alabama's three-man front who is now playing with the Baltimore Ravens.
It might also help him make a significant early contribution next season. Senior Josh Chapman is returning in the middle of the line and six-game starter Damion Square is back at one defensive end spot. But star end Marcell Dareus is gone and Kerry Murphy, a part-time starter at end who also played noseguard, is out for the spring with an unspecified physical ailment.
Coach Nick Saban also brought in JUCO defensive lineman Quinton Dial. Williams underwent minor knee surgery during the offseason after an injury sidelined him late last season.
He said he played noseguard when Arizona Western was in three-man fronts and both end and tackle in the 4-3 alignment.
Cody's biggest impact didn't come in the form of stats, but in swallowing up extra blockers and controlling the middle.
Williams said he's no stranger to facing double teams.
"I'm definitely used to that in junior college," he said. "I think once news got out about Alabama recruiting me, everyone kind of went after me every game. I would get double-teams and I would get chopped (chop-blocked) every game. I'm used to it. I'm not really a small guy so I think I should be able to handle that."
He doesn't seem fazed by life in Alabama either, though he says it's an adjustment even from Arizona.
"I know people from the West Coast are very different from people down South," Williams said. "I definitely experienced a little bit of Southern hospitality. I think everyone's a little nicer and stuff down here than they are on the West Coast."
He's not really a fan of Southern-style sweet tea or barbecue, though. He took to football much quicker.
Williams grew up playing rugby and basketball, and said he took up club football when he was 15.
"I started playing serious football with serious competition when I was 18," said Williams, who initially signed with Hawaii out of high school.
He said family and friends back home don't quite grasp the large following for a college team that routinely fills a 101,000-seat stadium. The closest comparison in Australia?
"It'd have to be a professional team, like a professional rugby team would probably be the closest," Williams said. "Even that they would never fill a stadium with 100,000 fans."