The Ottawa Redblacks have made it very clear this offseason that their record of 3-11 in 2021 was unacceptable. How have they done this? How about acquiring top veteran free agent talent at QB, and RB in Jeremiah Massoli, and William Powell?
Well they haven’t stopped there with the news breaking that Ucambre Williams has agreed to terms on a deal that will bring him to Ottawa for 2022. Williams is widely regarded as the top left tackle in free agency this offseason.
Williams is one of those rare linemen that has played every position on the line at a professional level. He was simply the 6th lineman so whenever a starter went down he went in.
He began at right tackle in college, before moving to left tackle for his final 3 seasons. Upon signing with Calgary originally appeared at right guard. In the Grey Cup as a rookie, he would play at right tackle. In 2017 after several injuries, Williams was asked to play center a position he had never played before.
By the end of the 2017 season he received consideration as the CFL West Best offensive lineman. After this performance he stayed at center in 2018 starting there for Calgary when they won the Grey Cup.
In 2019 he appeared at center, and got his first playing time at left tackle. Starting 16 games, bringing his career totals to 52 starts at 4 different positions. If not for an injury at center he would likely have stayed at LT all year. However much like when he landed at center in 2017, his play at left tackle necessitated a change to left tackle full time.
During the 2020 shutdown, he was given a chance to focus on his craft as a left tackle for a full season without distraction. He went back home to Alabama and trained to focus on his footwork and fundamentals of playing left tackle versus center which are two very different positions.
A center is asked to make the blocking reads, snap the ball on the cue, and then block a typically slower, but stronger defensive lineman. At left tackle you’re as far from the ball as an offensive lineman as it gets, you have to react to adjustments name by the QB and center, then wait until the ball is snapped before immediately firing off the ball into a strafe in an effort to keep up with smaller, faster defensive lineman.
However this is the position that Williams was most familiar with following college. Being able to focus on this position now for a full season away from the game gave him time to focus on the finer technique, while playing strictly at left tackle during the 2021 season gave him the playing time he needed to get 100% reacquainted with the position. He played just 11 games last season but returns healthy and ready to make an impact as the franchise left tackle for Ottawa.
Headed into the 2022 season Williams has signed with a quickly improving Redblacks squad, to presumably block the blindside for Jeremiah Massoli, and pave running lanes for William Powell. The three free agent signees are the building blocks of a culture change, back to the winning ways Ottawa was once used to. This Redblacks squad shouldn’t be slept on during the 2022 season they have their sights set on a Grey Cup.
You can check out my articles addressing the moves to acquire Massoli and Powell below:
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