Practice Tour: Phillip Williamson

DURHAM, N.C. --- North Carolina verbal commitment Phillip Williamson will officially be moved into the box for his senior season. After playing most of his prep career as an inside-the-box safety, the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder will now be at linebacker.

"We noticed that he plays a little bit better working up closer to the line of scrimmage than he does back there [at safety]," Jordan head football coach Mike Briggs said. "Plus, he's a very aggressive football player. Any time you have that, especially with his size and skill, you like to have those guys closer to the line-of-scrimmage."

After a couple weeks of preseason practice, Williamson says the transition has been smooth.

"Last year, I basically played linebacker, because they moved me up [into the box] a lot," Williamson said. "It's nothing all that new for me."

Briggs believes Williamson will truly see the differences in playing linebacker once Jordan's season kicks off on Friday against Wake Forest (N.C.) Wake Forest-Rolesville.

"It's going to be a different look for him, because he's not going to have that distance to try to read things," Briggs said. "Things are going to happen a whole lot quicker and he's going to have to adjust to that."

The position move will help Williamson beyond his high school career. Well before the Jordan staff made the switch, UNC projected him at linebacker.

"It helps me get used to what I'm supposed to do on certain plays, like cover-two, cover-three," Williamson said. "It will make it easier [for my collegiate career], so when I get to Carolina, I can jump right in."

In addition to his role on defense, Williamson will also serve as a deep threat at wide receiver on offense, and likely return punts and kickoffs.

"His input to the team is going to be vital," Briggs said. "We're asking a lot of him, but I don't think we're asking anything of him that he can't accomplish."

Since Everett Withers was named interim head coach, Williamson has had several conversations with the UNC coaching staff and attended one of their first preseason practices.

"They said the players and the coaches are adjusting to the situation," Williamson said. "They are all overcoming the adversity. Coach Everett Withers came in and is doing a good job."

Besides Williamson, Briggs has had two of his former players sign with UNC, including T.J. Thorpe, who is currently a freshman wide receiver at the school.

"I'm proud of how Phil handled [the changes at UNC]," Briggs said. "He said he committed to UNC, not necessarily Butch Davis. I think that's where he wants to be.

"It matters what happened, but they're not the only school that has gone through some problems. There are a lot of schools that have come back from things of that nature and built a solid program. And I think UNC is one that could do that."

Speaking of Thorpe, he was working out at Jordan when news started to break of Davis's dismissal. He also communicates with Williamson frequently.

"He said it was kind of tough," Williamson said. "But now, they're starting to get back on track and everything is back to normal speed."

Thorpe, who enrolled last January, has also told Williamson about his experiences at UNC the past eight months.

"T.J. said he loves it," Williamson said. "He said being a Tar Heel is great. He did say to make sure to run a lot and be in shape when I get there."

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