One of the biggest surprises thus far in spring football practice is the emergence of sophomore Darrien Williams in the free safety picture. Last year, Williams was as a back-up corner and played sparingly appearing in seven games, making only one tackle.
However, the OU coaches always talked highly of Williams and secretly they wondered if he wouldn't be a better safety than corner. That thought is proving to be true this spring, as Williams has moved into the starting role at free safety. Williams has always believed in himself, and recently after practice stopped to talk to OUInsider.com.
JH: Secondary Coach Bobby Jack Wright says you are the one player that he really likes in the secondary this spring. After last year, did you ever feel that you were going to settle on the right position for you?
DW: "I was wondering that too because I practiced at both corner and safety last year. I looked at it this way — that if safety is the position that I am capable of playing, then I should do anything to get out there on the field. That is the kind of attitude that you have to have as a Sooner and with my teammates.
JH: If you can cover at corner you can certainly cover at safety, right?
DW: "Oh yeah, I agree with you as far as covering receivers go. I believe in the secondary, as a corner or a safety, you should be able move around a little bit. I think that gives you an advantage out there."
JH: Talk about your range at safety and how the fact that you can cover so much ground gives you an advantage at safety?
DW: "I think that my ability to cover ground is one of the aspects that helps me at safety. It is something that I strive for, and that is to be able to move around. Basically, you have to work harder at safety because you are the last resort at lot of times. You have to be able to move around and cover a quarter or half the field."
JH: How tough of an adjustment has this move been for you?
DW: "I think I can play any position in the secondary, but at safety you have to be physical and I strive to be physical. I played safety in high school not that long ago, so I have worked on the technique before. I just have to go over again."
JH: If you played safety in high school, then your move to corner when you first got here was actually a bigger adjustment for you wasn't it?
DW: "Yes, it was. I had to be a lot more patient and I couldn't be as aggressive at corner as I am at safety. That was really a hard adjustment for me."
JH: I know you have seen how Coach Wright coach before, but now that you work with him first hand has that been a big adjustment for you?
DW: "Yes, that has been a big adjustment because he demands a lot of discipline out there. I like playing under him. There is a tradition here of discipline, and I think that is the word that describes him the best."
JH: There is a lot of competition at safety, and you are right in the middle of it aren't you?
DW: "You have to bring all you have to practice every single day because of all the talent we have at safety. That is especially true this spring because we are in a fight for starting jobs. I tell my teammates out here, 'Do you want some reps? Hey, we are competing out here, so you are going to have to compete with me and you are going to have to take my reps from me. And I don't think you can do that.' There is a competitive attitude out here."
JH: If you don't take charge like that you are not going to win the job?
DW: "I don't think so. That is the attitude that I take to practice every day. We have to compete on the first D or second D or whatever. We are out here for a reason."
JH: In the scrimmage, the secondary did not give up a deep pass. It safe to say that is a major focus this spring?
DW: "That is a very big focus for us this spring. We have to be patient, and that is especially true with the deep ball off of play-action. We have to read the play, know our keys and not let those receivers behind us. So far we have done that pretty well."
Two Minute Drill: Darrien Williams
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