Former Pirates Smith, Williams ink deals

Published 6:56 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2011

GREENVILLE – Former East Carolina all-conference performers Willie Smith and Jonathan Williams have signed undrafted free agent contracts with the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively, according to confirmations from both National Football League organizations late Tuesday.
A Kenly (N.C.) native who prepped at North Johnston High School, Smith recently completed an ECU career that included participation in 52 games and a run of 27 consecutive starts at left tackle as a junior and senior.
Smith was selected to the First Team All-Conference USA squad as a senior in 2010 after helping guide the Pirates to their fifth-straight bowl appearance. He started all 13 games and played an integral role for a program that set or tied 51 team and individual single-game, season and career records. Smith also provided leadership for a unit which ranked among the nation’s top 25 in redzone efficiency (5th/90.5 percent), pass offense (8th/318.7 ypg), scoring offense (16th/36.8 ppg), first down offense (18th/23.6 fdpg) and total offense (25th/437.6 ypg).
His protection of quarterback Dominique Davis’ blind side helped the junior rank first nationally in completions per game, second in points responsible for, fourth in passing yards per game, fourth in total passing yards and seventh in total offense per game last fall.
Smith spent the first two seasons at ECU on the defensive side of the ball as a tackle and end before moving to offense, first at the tight end position before settling into a role at left tackle. As a junior in 2009, he experienced action in 933 snaps and recorded 41 knockdown blocks while helping the Pirates to their second-straight Conference USA championship. Smith also anchored a line which ranked sixth nationally in fewest sacks allowed (12/0.86 spg).
Williams, a running back and kick return specialist who earned All-Conference USA honors as a senior in 2010 after rushing for a career-high 847 yards and 10 touchdowns, completed his career with play in 36 games. After experiencing limited action in 2008 and 2009, Williams returned to ECU’s lineup as a starter under first-year head coach Ruffin McNeill to earn post-season accolades after averaging 5.5 yards per attempt that helped produce three 100-yard efforts.
He was also a pass-catching weapon out of the backfield in the Pirates’ spread attack last fall, establishing an ECU single-season record for most receptions by a running back with 52 (431 yards). Williams also recorded more than 100 all-purpose yards in nine of 13 games after entering the campaign without reaching the triple-digit mark in consecutive games during his career. He turned in a personal-best 291 yards during East Carolina’s victory at UAB on Nov. 11, which included a 115-yard receiving and 94-yard kickoff return performance.
The Greenville (N.C.) J.H. Rose High School product finished his career with 1,415 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, 61 catches for 461 yards and 38 kickoff returns for 896 yards.
In addition to back-to-back Conference USA titles in 2008 and 2009, and a combined five-straight bowl appearances, Smith and Williams keyed a squad that produced a school-record 60 offensive touchdowns in 2010.