Instant Analysis: Eric Williams

Pittsburgh picked up a commitment from Fairless Hills, Pa., three-star safety Eric Williams on Monday night and that became solid Tuesday after he spoke with the coaching staff. Here is some instant analysis on what Williams brings to the table on defense.

Eric Williams wasn't very well known as a prospect going into the recruiting season primarily because he was being recruited mostly as a wide receiver and Pennsbury High School simply doesn't throw the ball. I had seen him play before and knew he was one to watch coming into the season, but it really took him going to the New Level Athletics 7-on-7 passing tournament and other camps for his stock to take off. Now that he's committed to Pittsburgh, let's talk about what he does well at the safety position specifically.

The biggest thing with Williams is that he has tremendous ball skills for a defensive back. Remember, this is a player who was primarily recruited to play wide receiver and he has very, very good hands. He's a big threat when playing center field as he has both the instincts and closing speed to get to the ball in the air and collect and interception. Even in a 7-on-7 atmosphere at Rutgers he was easily the best safety among 200 players as he intercepted six or seven passes during the tournament. Because of his experience at wide receiver he understands the offensive perspective and routes that receivers are running and jumps routes to make pass breakups or interceptions because of that experience. To go along with that, Williams isn't overly aggressive in coverage. He doesn't take too many chances that are going to leave his team out to dry in the secondary. You have to have a balance between making intelligent plays and taking chances when you're the last line of defense and Williams does that.

Pittsburgh plans to play Williams at strong safety and use him in the box as somewhat of a hybrid linebacker as well which he should do well at. Throwing into the flats could become a pick six at any time for an opposing offense and Williams also is a solid tackler and pass rusher. What is most important is that when I talked to Williams months ago about the possibility of playing strong safety for Pittsburgh he was not only okay with it, but excited about it once he went through film with the Panther coaching staff. He has a very solid 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame and could easily add weight to his frame. Some have speculated that he could bulk up and play outside linebacker which I could see, but I'm not sure that's something you want to do with a player with his ball skills. I'd much rather see him playing around 215-220 and impacting the run from a safety position while still making plays against the pass.

Experience will be the key with Williams. His first varsity season was in 2008 and he'll enter Pittsburgh a bit wet behind the ears, but in competition with other top athletes in the Northeast he didn't just stand out, he shined.

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