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Carolina Panthers receiver coach has local ties

Residents of the trincounty area will keep their eyes glued to their television Sunday to cheer on one of their own as he coaches in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Fort Deposit native Richard Williamson will join the Carolina Panthers' coaching staff on the sidelines as the team's receivers coach at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas as the Panthers attempt to win their first National Football League championship.

His family and friends have described Williams, 62, as a great guy, who is devoted to his work and cares about his players. One such friend is former Tampa Bay Defensive Line Coach and University of Alabama Head Coach Mike Dubose.

"He's a great guy and an outstanding football coach," Dubose said. "Richard can coach any position. A lot of coaches can coach one or two positions, but very few can coach them all. Richard can.

Dubose, who's currently head football coach at Luverne High School, said Williamson's versatility on the sidelines isn't his only strong suit. Dubose believes his love for the game is also a great quality.

"There's no question in my mind of his intensity for the game," Dubose said. "He has a real passion for the game. He's very, very good with the players. He does a great job in communicating with his players, and he's sincere. Players want to play for him."

Dubose coached with Williamson from 1987n89 at Tampa Bay, where Williamson was receivers coach. Williamson was with the Buccaneers until 1991. He served as interim head coach the final three games of the 1990 season and as head coach in 1991.

Williamson most recent quest for a new job was last summer when he was announced as one of five finalists for the University of Alabama head-coaching job. Williamson played wide receiver at Alabama from 1963n67, and later spent seven seasons (1963-67 and 70-71) working under Coach Paul &uot;Bear&uot; Bryant as an assistant coach for the Crimson Tide.

"It is something I am interested in,&uot; Williamson told The Gaston Gazette in an interview last summer. "I've always said I wanted to return to Alabama and be the head coach. Right now, it's about the only job I would take. If it happens, it happens. If not, I still have a great job here with the Panthers.&uot;

After coaching under "The Bear", Williamson joined the NFL as an assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1983.

With all the coaching experience Williamson possesses, Dubose is confident that the Panthers' receivers core will be prepared for the big game.

"They will be very well prepared," Dubose said. "Richard will have his players prepared to play. They'll play smart, hard and physical."

The Super Bowl will be televised on CBS. Coverage begins at 5 p.m.