Like all of the other players participating in this year’s Army All-American Bowl, Ventura (CA) safety Michael Williams came to San Antonio this week with a label... a description of the skills many scouts believed he possessed. Standing 5-11 and 185-pounds with good speed, many described him as strong / compact defensive back that excelled as a hitter, but had limited cover skills. In just a few days of practice this week he has quickly dispelled that notion. After watching him closely, many of those same pundits now feel that what he might currently lack as a cover man is more attributable to a lack in experience than it is to a lack in ability. He has certainly seen his fair share of tests already, and for the most part, he has handled them all.
“These are really competitive practices,” Williams said. “You get to see everyone’s skill and your skill as well. It’s fun.”
Much of what has excited Williams is the challenge of matching skills with talented opponents like receiver Terrance Tolliver. One factor that has raised the difficulty of that task even higher is his aforementioned inexperience at corner. He hasn’t once hesitated to move out on the island even though he’s not yet very comfortable at the position.
“We tried it a little bit, but now I’m going to safety,” said Williams. “But if they need me at corner I’ll go to corner.”
Williams has long expressed a desire to play safety in college because of his clear love for laying big hits. However, he contends he will show the very same openness to doing whatever is asked of him when he gets to the next level.
“I like safety better,” Williams admitted. “I’ve been there for three years and this is the first time I’ve ever done corner, apart from combines. But I’m going to let the coaches figure out where I best fit at. If they think I’m best at corner, I’ll try it out. If that’s where it is, I’ll go there.”
One of the schools hoping to have the option of playing him at either defensive backfield position is the University of Michigan. Coming off an disappointing Rose Bowl loss to USC, the Wolverines’ need for DBs is evident. Despite the outcome of that game, Williams still holds the Maize & Blue and its group of defensive backs in high regard.
“I turned (the game) off because I had to go to a meeting,” he said. “I didn’t get to see the whole thing. I’m going to talk to some of the Michigan guys because I didn’t think (USC) was a lot faster than them. I think it was just (blown) coverages.”
“It’s not a negative,” Williams added when asked if the lopsided affair impacted his opinion of the Wolverines. “They’ve got a lot of starters coming back. It’s still going to be competitive for a starting position.”
Keeping the positive Ann Arbor vibes flowing in Williams’ mind has certainly been high on the priority list of future Michigan signal caller Ryan Mallett. The personable gunslinger hasn’t been overbearing though. He has given Williams space when it comes to making his college decision. However, that same courtesy has not been extended when two have squared off on the football field.
“We’ve just had the occasional conversation,” Williams said regarding his discussions about which school he’ll attend. “We talk about the game. He’s got a rifle. I’ve knocked a couple passes down, but he’s got a rifle…a sniper rifle (laughing).”
At this point Williams is doing his level best not spoil his impending announcement during Saturday’s game, but he has acknowledged that is down to Michigan and Notre Dame. In recent article with Scout.com’s Allen Wallace, Williams stated, "It's really neck-and-neck. I would say there's a 51% chance I'll choose Michigan and a 49% chance I'll choose Notre Dame.”
While he wouldn’t expand on that comment any more, he did say that some of his comrades might have an idea what he is planning. So has he made his choice?
“Most likely, yeah,” he said. “Some of (the players) probably know what I’m kind of moving towards.”
GoBlueWolverine will have more on Williams throughout the week, including
his Saturday announcement.