Player capsule: Kyle Williams
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 178 pounds
2016 season quick review: After practicing at the wide receiver position in preseason camp, Williams was moved to safety, where he practiced the first two months of the season. After eight games he was moved back to wide receiver, where he saw a decent amount of action in the team's final three games. Williams concluded the year with six catches for 56 yards. Overall, Williams played sparingly and there were questions from fans and reporters about whether it was a smart use of burning his redshirt year.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: Williams primarily played quarterback in high school for an offense that used his athleticism as a rushing weapon. He also saw some action at wide receiver, but in a relatively limited capacity due to team need. As a result, Williams is still pretty inexperienced overall at the position, which was aggravated by spending two-thirds of last season on defense.
Even though this is the case, Williams is a very good athlete and a natural football player. He has movement skills that make for terrific versatility as a skill player, with loose hips and impressive foot quickness. He's shifty and has a nice blend of fluidity and twitchiness, with how well he flows into routes and turns his feet over with high RPMs. This gives him the potential to become a great route runner in time, but he's still learning the ins and outs of the position in that respect.
First-year wide receivers coach Rob Likens does a very good job of articulating to his players exactly what their initial steps should look and feel like releasing off the line of scrimmage and at the top of the route as it transitions. That's going to really help Williams a lot as he gets thousands of practice reps under his belt, and Williams is the type of player who will be diligent about the skill development portion of the game because he's a great student who is in Barrett, the Honors College at ASU.
We loved Williams' potential as a field safety in this Sun Devil defense because of how well he changes direction and accelerates out of a drop, covering a lot of ground in a hurry, and the instincts he seemed to have for the defensive side of the ball. But Williams prefers playing on offense and ASU moved him back as a result.
Though his size isn't great, at 5-foot-10 and 180ish pounds -- one of the reasons we liked him perhaps a bit more on defense -- Williams has demonstrated good ball skills, with an ability to catch the ball with extended arms and make difficult adjustments before the ball's arrival.
One of the adjustments Williams will have to make transitioning to the offense ASU will run under Billy Napier is moving from the slot to the outside at 'Z' receiver. With this comes different types of routes including more vertical runs, and requires a little better skill with hand usage releasing from the line of scrimmage. Even though it's not as demanding in this regard as the 'X' position, Williams will have to deal with defensive backs working to unbalance and slow him at the snap, and figure out how to improve entry into his routes.
Williams is quicker than he is fast at top speed, which -- combined with his average size -- increases the need to be technically proficient as a route runner in accessing the vertical shots that ASU will like to take in this offense. It'll also force him to learn to use his body really well to set up the cornerback before the ball's arrival. It's a very skill intensive position and Williams is still early in his development, but someone with a reasonably high ceiling.
Projected depth chart status: Entering the summer it looks as though Williams is second on the depth chart at the 'Z' position behind fellow sophomore John Humphrey Jr., who is speedier and more composed down the field, but no quicker, and not necessarily further along from an overall route consistency standpoint. For Williams, becoming one of the Top-5 wideouts would be considered a solid outcome this season, and one he could strongly build off of in subsequent seasons.