Sep 6, 2013
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As one of the nation’s top high school players in 2011, Karlos Williams did two things in particular that the Youtube Generation loves: he lit people up on defense and he ran past people on offense.
High-school highlight tapes can form a life of their own online and Williams’ myriad of eye-popping plays at Ridge Community High School made him one of the most popular prospects in his class. If he wasn’t blasting some poor receiver coming across the middle, Williams was beating defenders in a foot race to the end zone.
And the fans ate it up.
The legend of Williams’ blend of size and speed was only made more powerful by the fact that there was video footage providing visual evidence of jus how dangerous he could be on the football field. The Davenport, Fla. native was a fan favorite before he ever signed with Florida State and joined his older brother Vince Williams in Tallahassee because of his immense talent and potential on either side of the ball.
But now after starting that highly anticipated career as a safety, the younger Williams is now making a switch.
Jimbo Fisher’s Thursday-evening announcement that Williams has been permanently moved from safety — where he racked up a combined 42 tackles and one interception in 27 career games — to running back, may have come as shock at first blush because of its timing but the reality is that it wasn’t all that surprising. In fact, the move made too much sense not to make.
“He’s a natural running back. He’s very natural; extremely natural,” Fisher said, almost giddy with excitement about the addition of someone with Williams’ skill-set to his offense. “He’s 6-1, 232 pounds, he runs a 10.5 100 meters, can catch, can run, is very natural with the ball in his hands. He’s physical, fast, learns; he’s doing a really nice job.”
So, why now? Why would Williams — a player that was part of the rotation on the new-look ‘Noles’ defense — make this move now and not at the start of camp one month ago?
While Fisher has always thought Williams’ best football and longtime future in the game was on the offensive side of the ball, the Seminoles’ head coach would never make a player switch positions unless they wanted to. And Williams — at least until now — had no interest in vacating his spot as a safety on the FSU defense.
“He has always been a defensive guy,” Fisher said. “People have always told him he’s a defensive player. He’s a very good defensive player; there is nothing wrong with him as a defensive player.”
But things have a way of changing as careers progress, and Williams’ reluctance to join the offense eventually gave way when he realized the unique opportunity that he has. By making the switch now, he has the opportunity to make an immediate impact.
With Mario Pender academically ineligible for the 2013 season and James Wilder, Jr. nursing a sore shoulder, the Seminoles had just two healthy scholarships tailbacks on the roster in the aftermath of the team’s dismantling of Pittsburgh Monday night. And while Wilder, Jr. is listed as “day to day” and not expected to miss an extended amount of time, the addition of Williams not only bolsters depth but it also gives Fisher’s offense an extra veteran and potential playmaker in the backfield.
Devonta Freeman and Wilder, Jr. aren’t losing their spots atop the depth chart but with a true freshman like Green as the only other player to utilize as a tailback, Williams addition couldn’t have come at a better time.
Defensively, Williams’ move wouldn’t have been possible without the emergence of his teammates. Had there been nobody to fill Williams’ role as the team’s No. 3 safety and nickel/dime player, FSU wouldn’t have had the luxury of moving him to the offensive backfield. The emergence of rookie Jalen Ramsey, sophomore P.J. Williams and redshirt sophomore Keelin Smith, Fisher said, gives the ‘Noles three capable players that can fill the void of losing Williams.
“I just think he is very natural with the ball in his hands and he can change the numbers on the scoreboard in my opinion,” Fisher said. “… I think he can provide not just depth there, but I think he can provide some spark there. I’m not disappointed with what we have at the running back. You know those guys take a beating … we have a great rotation.
“I am very pleased.”