Snapshot: Vince Williams

One could say that Vince Williams is on a roll this year. In the last game he played – the Orange Bowl – Williams had a career-high 10 tackles and ...

... his only quarterback sack of his senior season.

Of course, that quarterback shouldn't have roused Williams the way he had.

Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch said before the game that the proud Florida State defense hadn't "seen anything like our offense."

In an interview with Sporting News, Lynch went on to say that "We plan on wearing them down. In the fourth quarter, we plan to have them on their knees – and then just pound away."

Instead, Florida State, led by middle linebacker/QB spy Williams, pounded away on Lynch, who completed 15 of 41 passes and carried 23 times for 44 yards in a 31-10 loss to FSU.

Did Williams get a chance to remind Lynch of his pre-game comments?

"Every tackle," Williams said five months later from the locker room of the Pittsburgh Steelers. "We had a conversation about it 10 times."

Florida State's defense finished the season as the nation's second-ranked defense, a ranking in which Williams takes great pride. He was the signal-caller, captain and, by postseason vote, its leader.

"But we had a very mature defense," Williams said. "We had Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine, Everett Dawkins, Xavier Rhodes. We had thousands of leaders on defense. I was just the guy who was the liaison between our defense and our coach."

That job lasted for two years. Williams started 26 of Florida State's last 27 games and he made over 100 tackles in that time. He was also the signal-caller as a junior, when he was voted the defensive player with the best attitude. Nigel Bradham, the linebacker now playing for the Buffalo Bills, won Florida State's Leadership Award that year.

"The guy who gets the Attitude Award is like second place for the Leadership Award," Williams said. "The two of us played off each other. We were both very physical, a physical tandem. We prided ourselves on hitting people. Me and Bradham were real teammates but we're kind of reciprocals. We're fools of each other. That's fair to say."

The remark caused Williams to laugh for a second time during the interview – (the other occurred after his 10-tackle/10-conversation comment) – but he's as serious as the resume that got him out of high school and into the NFL as quickly as possible.

As a sophomore at Ridge Community High School in the Orlando, Fla., suburb of Davenport, Williams was an All-Polk County performer before being named Polk County Defensive Player of the Year as a junior. As a senior Williams took night classes with adults in order to graduate early and head to Florida State ahead of the rest of the 2008 recruiting class. That move allowed him to play in 10 games as a freshman and justified Williams' serious vision as a prep senior.

"Oh, yeah, I had a focus," Williams said.

What about having fun?

"It depends on your definition of fun," he said. "I'm sure some high schoolers consider going to homecoming fun, but to me having fun is having a successful career and then being on a beach somewhere when you're 65 with your kids and your grandkids around you. You're having fun that way. That's what I always try to focus on."

A herniated disk in 2009 stalled Williams' plan, but he recovered to climb the Florida State depth chart.

Another climb – as a sixth-round draft pick who was the Steelers' fourth-team buck linebacker this spring – is underway, and Williams has impressed the one person who understands the complex nature of the position he plays.

"He's not a normal rookie coming in. He doesn't look awful," said Larry Foote, the Steelers' signal-caller as the buck linebacker.

Is Williams getting it?

"For the most part," Foote said. "He's above the line."

Williams gave this self-assessment during the final week of spring practice:

"Everything's going good," he said. "There are big adjustments because I came from a 4-3 system and to a 3-4 system. I'm completely brand new to it. This is pretty much like football grad school. Everything is taken to a whole new level and I'm really loving it because I'm a guy who gets into the Xs and Os. I would like to be a coach one day, and to learn it from a guy like Dick LeBeau is amazing."


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