MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee head football coach Derek Mason announced today the hiring of Cornelius Williams as the program’s wide receivers coach.
“We worked together at Auburn, and I have seen his maturation and growth up close,” added Mason. “He is a relationship coach who can recruit at a high level, and I have a great understanding of his technical proficiency to build and develop players. With his recruiting expertise and high football IQ, Cornelius has the skill set to develop our receivers at a high level.”
Williams makes his way to MTSU after one year as wide receivers coach at New Mexico. In his only season, Williams helped the Lobo offense go from 130th nationally in total offense to 47th in 2023.
“Joining Coach Mason’s staff is a huge deal for me and my family because of the relationship we have built over the years,” said Williams. “I have already learned a lot from him in just a few days and I can’t wait to start teaching and developing these student-athletes.”
Prior to New Mexico, Williams was at the University of Alabama where he spent the 2022 season as an offensive analyst under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide finished ranked No. 5 in the final CFP Poll, going 11-2 and winning the Allstate Sugar Bowl 45-20 over Kansas State. The Crimson Tide averaged 41.1 points per game in 2022 and 477.1 yards of offense per game. Prior to Alabama and a stop to coach receivers at Auburn, Williams spent six seasons with his alma mater Troy as receivers coach, the last two also serving as passing game coordinator.
During his time at Troy, Williams’ receivers earned 14 All-Sun Belt honors. In 2020, Troy’s passing attack was 21st nationally in passing yards per game (290.2) and Kaylon Geiger was 30th nationally with 752 receiving yards. In 2019, outside receivers Reggie Todd and Khalil McClain combined for 83 receptions, 12 touchdowns and 1228 yards. As a unit, the receivers topped the 100-yard mark 11 different times to shatter the Troy school record that previously stood at seven games.
As an offense, the Trojans topped the 500-yard mark in total offense on six different occasions to tie the program’s DI record and scored 35-plus points eight times: the second-most in program history and fourth-most in Sun Belt Conference history. The Trojans finished ninth nationally in passing offense (313.2), 25th in scoring offense (33.8) and 18th in total offense (456.3).
Receiver Emanuel Thompson led the Sun Belt with 80 receptions in 2016 — the second most in a season in Troy history — and finished third with 820 receiving yards. Deondre Douglas, who would earn three All-Sun Belt honors in his career, tied for third with 60 catches and 740 yards.
In 2018, Dameon Willis finished with the second most receiving yards in a game in school history after a 10-catch, 213-yard performance against Louisiana and ranked ninth nationally with seven catches of 40-plus yards despite missing a pair of games.
Troy finished the 2016 season 10-3 with a victory in the Dollar General Bowl, the first top-25 ranking in school and Sun Belt Conference history and the best win-improvement in the country. In 2017, Troy set a school FBS record for wins as the Trojans finished the season 11-2 with a Sun Belt championship, New Orleans Bowl title and a victory at No. 22 LSU.
Williams was a four-year letterman for the Trojans from 2006-09 and helped lead Troy to a combined 26-3 Sun Belt Conference record. He finished his Trojan career with 63 receptions for 764 yards and seven touchdowns.
Williams has also served as the receivers coach at UAB (2014) and Jacksonville State (2013). UAB averaged 33.2 points and 431.8 yards of total offense in Williams’ lone season coaching the Blazers. Both totals were good for fourth in the offense-heavy Conference USA and wide receiver J.J. Nelson was a fifth-round selection of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2015 NFL Draft. Williams helped orchestrate a monumental turnaround at Jacksonville State as the Gamecocks went from a 6-5 team prior to his arrival to advancing to the FCS Quarterfinals. Additionally, wide receiver Josh Barge earned freshman All-America honors following the season.
Prior to Jacksonville State, Williams coached the wide receivers at North Alabama in 2012 and Murray State in 2011. Williams was an offensive graduate assistant coach at South Alabama in 2010, helping the program to a 10-0 record and offensively averaged 439 yards and 41.3 points per game.
Williams graduated from Troy University in 2010 with a degree in sport and fitness management. He is married to the former Kiley Miller from Little Rock, Ark., and the couple has two daughters, Ellis and Wynn, and one son, Maverick.