Last fall saw the emergence of Chucky Williams as a play-maker in the Louisville secondary.
A product of Champagnat Catholic in Hialeah, Fla., Williams started 12 of 13 games and finished fifth on the team with 61 total tackles. He also had three interceptions, a forced fumble and recovery and two tackles for a loss. This fall the 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior safety will be leaned on for even more production.
Williams has quickly adapted to his expected role and explained that he spent significant time improving during the off-season.
"(I was) pushing myself harder in the weight room during the off-season so I'm able to perform well and be effective during camp," he said following a recent practice.
That included adding "a few pounds" while heavily conditioning not to lose his quickness, saying that, "I feel great," through two weeks of fall camp.
While youth and inexperience was part of what defined the U of L secondary a season ago, the opposite is now true. A year wiser, the group has put aside personal aspirations for the better of the group. Instead of looking out for oneself, Williams explained that "we're able to push ourselves a lot harder without there being any tension. We all know that we are all out here trying to get better. There's great chemistry out there."
Last season's 0-3 start - by a combined 13 points to Auburn, Houston and Clemson - left a sting for the returning vets and signaled a rollercoaster season for the secondary. The unit had its share of big plays, but it also struggled to slow an opposing passing attack at times.
"There's a bit of a chip on our shoulder because we weren't what we wanted to be last year," Williams said. "This year is another opportunity to go out there and be dominant."
It won't be easy. While the secondary returns nearly all and has added quality depth, a schedule that includes the ACC Atlantic Division will be a challenge each week out.
"It's going to take a lot of hard work, trust within each other and (practice) be ready for anything," said Williams.