Alabama football OC Bill O'Brien: Transfer portal 'similar to free agency but without the rules'

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama football offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien took part in free agency plenty while he was in the NFL. 

Before coming to Tuscaloosa, O'Brien served as general manager and coach of the Houston Texans. He also spent five seasons as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots. 

So, he's quite familiar with what free agency is like in the pros. 

On Wednesday, ahead of Alabama's matchup against Georgia (13-1) in the College Football Playoff championship at 7 p.m. CT on Jan. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, O'Brien was asked if he felt like he hit the free agency jackpot when Alabama added former Ohio State receiver Jameson Williams through the transfer portal. 

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"You know, it is similar to free agency but without the rules, to be honest with you," O'Brien said. "There are some rules in college, but the portal is an interesting deal. And I'll stay away from that. I'll let coach (Nick) Saban handle that." 

Three thousand football players in Division I, II and III have entered the portal the past two months, SI reported Monday. 

O'Brien didn't say more about the portal, but he talked more on Williams and how he "hit the ground running" when he joined the Crimson Tide (13-1). 

"I think Bryce (Young), the rest of the offensive guys did a great job with him helping him out," O'Brien said. "John Metchie, all those guys that play receiver out there that have been here, they did a great job. And he picked it up fast and obviously he's a huge part of our success." 

This season, Williams has caught 75 passes for 1,507 yards and 15 touchdowns. He had four touchdowns of 70-plus yards this season. 

O'Brien said Williams has excellent speed, is an excellent route runner, competitive, smart and instinctive. 

"I think that's something that the great ones have those traits," O'Brien said. "Everybody's a little bit different. Everybody's built differently. Everybody has different skill sets. Different speed things like that. But the best ones that I've been around and Jameson's in that category, they all have that competitive spirit that's really hard to find sometimes."