Williams Ready to Party in the 3-4

ATHENS – Nick Williams is what could be called a self-motivator.

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Eager and excited, he's not changed much in that department since high school. He's the guy who seems to get along with everyone. He's happy, excited and eager. He's also a physical safety who can run, and run, and run some more.

But he played linebacker last season, and some linebacker the season before that. Williams, in the end, might benefit from Georgia's new coaching staff more than any other player outside of Justin Houston and company at the outside linebacker spots.

Why? Because no matter his body type, Williams has always, in his head, been a safety.

"I was happy," he said of hearing the news of his return to the secondary. "That's where I always wanted to play. I feel like I am a safety. I understood my potential putting on a lot of weight and becoming a linebacker, but safety is my home."

The change this spring has invigorated Williams, who seems a likely candidate to start opposite close long-time friend Bacarri Rambo at strong safety.

"Bacarri and I have always said: ‘Man, we have to play together. We have to be on the same team.' He's been on me, too. He'll say to me at practice: ‘Nick… get into your playbook. You have to be back there with me.'"

The two have been scheming up ways to play with one another since they were little boys in southwest Georgia. Now they will get the chance to do so under a 3-4 scheme and with a defensive coordinator who has serious football credentials.

Williams made the move to safety this spring… for good. He also, at one time, had the most awesome hair on the team.
"They bring a whole new method of coaching," Williams said. "I love what they told us when they came in. They got to know us when they came in. I feel like a coach has to have a relationship with their player – if you don't have that then things are not going to get done. You want to play for your coach, and I can play for Coach Lakatos and Coach Grantham."

"Coach Grantham told us all that he didn't know any of us, and that we were all starting fresh. I liked when he said that. He's a great guy – I love him," the 222-pound safety said.

Williams is excited that Grantham gave him a chance to move back "home" to the secondary.

"And everything is coming back to me," he said. "Once you learn the defense, no matter the position you play, you know what to do. Cover three is cover three; cover four is cover four; man is man. What's different is your verbal communication – the words are different."

The Bainbridge admits that he struggled learning outside linebacker in the 4-3. It was foreign to him. He just felt more at home in the secondary.

"It was hard for me to learn outside linebacker, but now things are just clicking for me," he said.

Williams also added that he's likes the style of new secondary coach Scott Lakatos.

"When Coach Lakatos gets on you it's about something you did – not anything else. He's about football – nothing else," Williams said.

But more than anything I took from my conversation with Nick Williams was his genuine enthusiasm for the 3-4.

"I like it. I am excited. I love it," he said. "This defense… I love this defense. You play; it's simple; you let loose. If you mess up, you always have someone covering your back. I am back there – I am just playing loose. You can take risks. I know at strong safety in the 3-4 that I am going to have someone behind me all of the time. I have learned it (snapping fingers repeatedly) like that. You never know who is blitzing – it's crazy. Offenses have to be smart… they are going to have to be smart. There are going to be some things that they cannot do."

The notion of taking advantage, schematically, of the body types on the roster of the red and black came to Williams quickly.

"When Coach Grantham introduced the playbook, and I started thinking about the athletes we have… man, I knew that this was going to work," he said. "If you look at our defensive line, we really don't have defensive linemen who look like defensive linemen. We really don't have linebackers who look like linebackers. We all just kind of look like hybrids."

A Hybrid? Not Williams anymore… you can put his name at safety – in permanent marker.

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