Williams: 'A Passion for Defense'

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Deunta Williams inked with North Carolina on National Signing Day '06 with the expectation that he would be playing wide receiver in former coordinator Frank Cignetti's offense.

But only months following the Butch Davis hire in November, the redshirt freshman was moved to free safety, a position facing serious depth issues for the Tar Heels.

"I really wanted to go to [defensive back]," Williams said. "Coming out of high school I was ranked pretty high at DB, so I thought I could play it here.

"I talked to [former defensive backs] Coach [Marvin] Sanders while he was here, and they were going to move me over, so I guess those coaches told the new coaches when they came in about me moving over."

The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder was quoted on several occasions in high school about his preference to play on the offensive side of the ball, but the longing for laying a big hit changed his mind last fall.

"You know when you give up something, and you really love something, you don't really know how much you love it until you lose it," Williams said. "I just have a passion for defense – just the intensity and stuff like that.

"I saw that we were lacking on defense a little bit last year, so I felt like I could help my team more on defense rather than on offense."

The defensive secondary took a hit last week when second-string sophomore strong safety Bryan Dixon was issued a medical hardship. Williams, junior Trimane Goddard and redshirt freshman Shaun Draughn are the headliners in a young group of players vying for playing time in defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano's backfield.

"Nobody really has a spot, and that's the beauty of it all," Williams said. "We're all just pushing and grinding, and at the same time, while we're all competing, we're all getting better."

The Jacksonville, N.C. native believes the talent in his position group will allow them to be successful on the field this coming season.

"Hopefully we can lock it down," Williams said. "I don't really believe in using inexperience as a crutch – as long as you know your stuff. A veteran can make a mistake just as easy as a first-time player could.

"I think our defensive line will help us out a lot, because we're going to get a lot of pressure on the ball, and our linebackers also. So, about three or four seconds, that's all we've got to do this year, just guard them for that long."

North Carolina ranked 11th in pass efficiency defense in the ACC last season, allowing 7.7 yards per attempt and 14 touchdowns. With talented athletes like Williams in the defensive secondary, those numbers should improve this fall.

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