Nick Williams is a talented, aggressive, and physical safety for the Georgia Bulldogs. However, before being named the starting safety on the 2010 post-spring depth chart, he was not remembered as such. Why? Because he has spent the better part of his career vacillating between safety and linebacker—mostly playing the latter.
Williams appeared in 12 games for Georgia last season—all at linebacker—and recorded nine tackles. He performed decently, but he never excelled at the position, and he often seemed out of place playing there. Even so, he continued to bulk up and put forth his best effort every game.
Enter a new defensive scheme and a new defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, and there would be no more linebacker for Nick Williams. He was going to return to the place he calls “home”—safety.
It proved to be a good move all around as Williams has the obvious size, speed, and skill-set suited for playing the safety position.
The switch is something that Williams has repeatedly expressed his pleasure in, and his excitement has translated into some exceptional play during spring practices.
What exactly has he brought to the Georgia secondary?
For one, the size that worked against him as a potential linebacker, is now an advantage for him at safety. He stood 6’2” and weighed a solid 220 pounds at the end of spring.
He hopes to slim down a bit more but his size and speed, coupled with his aggressive approach to playing the game, should make for some highlight reel hits in 2010 if he continues to develop as well as he has thus far.
Second, he’s got plenty of motivation to grow and do even better once fall practice starts because he’s likely to share time with Jakar Hamilton—the highly touted JUCO transfer who many feel will eventually become a star in his own right—and that makes him well-aware of the fact that he is only as good as his last performance; there is no loyalty.
So, his goal has been to play hard, learn the playbook, and enjoy the fact that he’s finally feeling comfortable on the football field again. He’s enjoying the freedom that the 3-4 has given him on the field and likes the idea that he can play a hard-hitting, assertive brand of play on the field.
That said, some might wonder if Williams’ play might be a little too bold. Can he learn to play both aggressive and smart? After all, it was only last season that he grabbed negative headlines after being accused of a late hit on former Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow.
Williams defended the play, but some who saw it felt that it was over the top and a bit dirty.
If the above point seems irrelevant given the overall tone and intensity of the Georgia-Florida game, then we need only look to the recent events of the 2010 G-Day game.
For those who don’t know or remember: after making a tackle on running back, Washaun Ealey, Williams held Ealey down. Ealey responded by taking a swing at Williams—Williams responded in turn and a skirmish broke out between the two late in the game. It ended with Williams being reprimanded by coach Grantham, and he was subsequently benched.
Most fans pointed the finger at Ealey, saying he was out of line, and I agree with that assessment. Still, given the Georgia Bulldogs' issues with penalties last season, situations like this are cause for concern.
Does anyone care who’s at fault if the result is a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct? Especially if it comes during a crucial moment in a close SEC contest?
As much talent and potential as Williams has for being a breakout player this season, he will need to learn to maintain his composure on the field. If he can do that, the sky is clearly the limit as he still has untapped potential that has yet to be realized.
(This article appears courtesy of The Lady Sportswriter —Check it out!)