A decade later, Michael Williams is back in the hometown where his football career began, to take over the Pickens County High School program.

Williams, a 2008 PCHS graduate who went on to play tight end at Alabama and in the NFL, replaces James Thompson, who accepted the head coaching position at Carver-Montgomery after leading the Tornadoes to back-to-back Class 1A, state runner-up finishes.

“It means everything to me. It is something that you can’t put into words to be able to come back to your school and try to show these kids what you learned throughout your process,” Williams said.

A two-time, all-state player and Class 2A Lineman of the Year finalist at PCHS, Williams red-shirted his first season at Alabama before becoming a four-year starter. He said one of his favorite memories during his time at Alabama was catching a touchdown pass during the 2013 BCS National Championship victory over Notre Dame.

Williams was drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions, where he played for two years, before being traded to the New England Patriots, where he spent two seasons.

“Michael is a hometown and homegrown product and been exposed to football at the highest level, playing for coach (Nick) Saban at UA then coach Bill Belichick with the Patriots,” Pickens County Schools Superintendent Jamie Chapman said. “He has been exposed to football at the highest level by some of the greatest coaches in modern-day history, and hopefully he translates what he has learned and relays that to his high school team. No doubt they will be taught the correct way.”

The first official day of practice for the AHSAA is Monday, and Williams said he’s looking forward to the upcoming season.

“(Saban and Belichick) are both disciplined, and like high-character guys, and that is what I’m trying to do, is build discipline and get high-character guys and let the winning take care of itself,” Williams said.

In addition to his coaching duties, Williams will teach physical education.

“The community has been buzzing with excitement to have him again,” Chapman said. “It will be a learning curve for Michael, but he is more than able to make that adjustment from player to coach and will be a great asset to not only his team but to that school and community.”

Reach Joey Chandler at joey.chandler@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.