From Linebacker To Safety

Eric Williams started all 11 games at linebacker last season. Now, the junior moves to safety, where he will compete for a starting spot there.

First-year defensive coordinator Matt House admits that moving a linebacker to safety in a rare one seen these days.

However, when asked why one would make a move, he had a couple of simple answers explaining his decision in moving Eric Williams.

"The way we played him last year, he was doing some of the same things a safety does," House said. "He's a little bit different. He played as a detached linebacker. He runs well. As a linebacker, he ran really well. He's a 205-pound guy, really has to fight as a linebacker to keep weight on. It fits his body-type, and his skill set."

In 2012, Williams played in all 13 games, starting in 11. He finished with 52 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for losses. He also had two fumble recoveries and an interception in the Notre Dame game.

The position switch is far from a demotion, moreso a chance to put him in position to make more plays. Despite being a bit undersized at linebacker, he finished fifth on the team in total tackles.

"He's got a lot of range," House added. "It's a position where we need some depth, and a position (switch) we feel will help our defense."

House also noted that Williams playing up as a linebacker, a lot of times, was used to counter a spread offense. That's something Williams can still have an impact with, while Anthony Gonzalez--a former safety--moves up to play linebacker.

It may look like Williams is competing, or maybe filling in for Jason Hendricks, who has been out this spring due to injury. House says Williams, Hendricks, or whoever, needs to be able to play both safety positions. While the safety tandem, right now, is Williams and Vinopal, by Williams working at Hendricks' spot this spring, gives him the benefit of learning both spots.

""Our safeties have to be multiple and know both spots," House said. "I think the way spread teams are today, as well as the hurry-up offense, you better be able to know and understand concepts. They really need to understand the concept, and then they can flip either way."

Williams enjoyed his first year as a starter, and has no complaints about learning a new position, or potentially risking his starting spot to try a new spot.

""I usually use my speed to my advantage because, obviously, I don't have much size," Williams said. "But I use my speed to my advantage and I guess they picked up on that and moved me back (in the secondary). I'm more of a tall, lean, rangy type of kid if you want to put it that way. But safety or linebacker, I'm tough. So it really doesn't matter to me."


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