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New Montana Tech DC brings Big Sky, Mountain West experience to Orediggers

Posted at 3:12 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 17:33:20-04

BUTTE  — Aric Williams had two good reasons to depart the Mountain West Conference for the Frontier and relocate to Butte.

First, his wife is a Butte native and moving to the Mining City gave them an opportunity to be closer to family.

Second, Montana Tech offered Williams the chance at his first defensive coordinator job.

"Relationships and opportunities brought me to Butte," said Williams, who also coaches Tech's linebackers, at a Tuesday practice. "Getting an opportunity to get closer to family. It was just a great opportunity and I love Montana."

Most recently the defensive backs coach for San Jose State University, Williams brought over a decade of Division I coaching experience to Tech. Two weeks into the season and it's been paying off, with the Orediggers defense allowing just 13 points, the best mark in the league.

Before coaching the Spartans, Williams spent eight years as a defensive backs coach in the Big Sky Conference, coaching at the University of Idaho from 2015-17 and before that spending five seasons with the University of Montana where he coached two-time All-American Trumaine Johnson.

"It's not a lot of schools, but it's a lot of years," said Williams, who is a 2005 Oregon State graduate where he played four years at defensive back for the Beavers, snagging an interception against Notre Dame in the Insight Bowl in his final collegiate game.

All those years of experience have translated into early success in Williams' first foray into guiding an entire defense. Tech surrendered just 191 total yards of offense to Eastern Oregon University in the season opener and gave up 210 yards in the Orediggers' Copper Game win against Carroll College to earn their first win over the Saints since 2017.

Williams said his defensive philosophy is predicated on speed and sound fundamentals.

"I'm gonna keep it simple for the guys, and hopefully keep the offenses guessing," he said. "So we're gonna play fast, know what to do and do it well."

Tech's defensive efforts have helped propel the Orediggers to a 2-0 record and a No. 21 ranking in the latest NAIA coaches' poll. It's certainly a promising start but, at the same time, it's still September.

"Still early, got to keep it rolling," Williams said. "I tell them all the time we haven't arrived yet. Just want to let them know that we haven't done anything yet. We still got a lot to prove and we got to continue to stay hungry."

From his days as a college player to his time as a coach, Williams has only known the Division I ranks. Parlaying that into a position at an NAIA school nestled in the Rocky Mountains may seem to the outside observer like a step back. But he recognizes that the quality of the college football coaching experience is about more than enrollment numbers or division.

"No doubt, and you know know it's more the spirit of the school, it's not the size or the level of football," he said. "Mr. (athletic director Matt) Stepan is doing a good job with the athletic program. Basketball, ladies cross country, a lot of championships and we want to hopefully keep that thing rolling."