Passion, family made DL coach Terrell Williams leave the NFL – and California – for Florida

By Adam Silverstein
January 9, 2015

More Florida Gators assistant features: Randy Shannon | Geoff Collins | Tim Skipper

Playing, coaching and talking about the defensive line is what life is about for new Florida Gators assistant Terrell Williams. Well, that and his family, with those two passions combining into a perfect storm that led him to Gainesville, Florida this week.

Williams, a Los Angeles, California, native who has spent the last three years of his career coaching with the Oakland Raiders, turned down the chance to sign a new contract to remain with the Raiders – “I was offered a contract to stay. I had a couple more opportunities.” – to move across the country with his family.

“I’ve had opportunities to leave for college before at a couple different powerhouse school, but I just felt like Florida was a great opportunity for me and my family right now,” he said on Thursday.

“My wife is from Fernandina Beach, Florida. She went to Florida A&M. Both her parents are Gators; they have engineering degrees from here. I just felt like it was a great opportunity. … You don’t just leave the NFL to go coach at any college; I felt like this was a special opportunity for me at this time.”

Williams jumped at the chance to coach Florida, literally. Upon finishing a phone conversation with head coach Jim McElwain and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, he “threw some stuff in a suitcase and jumped on a plane and flew over” to Gainesville. “You grab a coat and tie, a couple of shirts and you just roll. That’s life of a football coach,” he said with a smile.

“The good thing for us is that we’re going from California – which I was born and raised in Los Angeles, we were close to home for me – and now we’re coming to Gainesville, which is close to home for my wife.

“For me, I feel like I can go coach football anywhere in America. Now, I’d rather be at Florida than anywhere in America. It’s important for me for my wife to feel comfortable. I would never take a job, and I’ve turned down jobs in the past just because we didn’t want to live in a certain area. Family’s important and I’m looking forward to getting my wife and son out here and soon as we can get them out here.”

Williams is already pleased with what he’s seen from the Gators. He enjoys the attitude of the players and finds the coaching staff to be energetic and of like mind. He reiterated a theme permeating throughout the coaching staff: their jobs are all about relationships and caring about both each other and the players.

“We’ve only been together since Monday [yet] I feel like we got a really good defensive staff. We spend so much time together that it’s important that you enjoy being around the guys that you’re working with,” he said. “From a coach’s perspective, if you’re in a room with guys that you don’t necessarily like, then it can be miserable. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had that happen yet, or at least I’m not going to say that it’s happened yet.”

There is no question that Florida’s defensive staff is filled with experience, especially at its top two spots of defensive coordinator (Collins) and co-coordinator (Randy Shannon).

Williams plans to learn whatever he can from both men, but while he admitted that everyone has aspirations of having a job with more responsibility, he is more than content and comfortable with being a career defensive line coach and spending a long time with the Gators.

“I’m a defensive line coach, first and foremost. I don’t care if I was a coordinator, I don’t care if I was a head coach; I’m a defensive line coach. I played defensive line. I’ve only coached defensive line. I’m not a quarterback coach; you won’t ever see me coaching offensive line. I’m a defensive line coach. I believe in it. That’s my passion. That’s what I want to do. …

“I feel like, as a defensive line coach, this is – for sure – the best job in college football. The defensive line coach at Florida is better than some NFL jobs. I’m very comfortable with being here.”

So now that Williams is in Gainesville with a Gators logo on his chest, the only things that remain unsolved are Florida’s 2015 recruiting class and how he plans to coach up his unit once spring practice begins.

McElwain’s coaching staff has avoided speaking about actual football – concepts, schemes and the like – for the most part with every assistant explaining that he is focused on recruiting until after National Signing Day. However, Williams did provide his general philosophy on coaching up defensive linemen.

“Attack – that’s it. Everybody, I can get up and give you a big speech on what I teach. For us, it’s about being aggressive, attacking guys. That’s the only way I know how to coach that position,” he said.

“It’s not a passive position; I’m not a passive guy. We’ll have a lot of fun and we’re going to attack people. It’s an ‘us against the world’ mentality.”

More Florida Gators assistant features: Randy Shannon | Geoff Collins


  1. SaraGator says:

    He seems to be a gentle giant.

    I decided to google him after watching his press conference – he and his wife lost their oldest child (4yrs old) a few years ago. I’m sure that has a lot to do with his move.

    Welcome, Coach Williams! Lookin’ forward to seeing you on the sidelines.

  2. Marlex says:

    He goes from my pro team to my college team. Welcome to the Gators!

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Well, he was probably going to be fired anyway with the rest of the staff, but sure hope he brings a lot of great stuff to us.

  3. Dave Massey says:

    Love this guy, really believe he is going to attract top DL talent with his NFL experience. Welcome to Gator Nation Coach Williams!

  4. Michael Jones says:

    I have a good feeling about this guy. Welcome to Gator Nation, coach!

  5. Good post. Heartily welcome Coach Williams you are doing an wonderful job.

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