June 14, 2012

All-American dreams

Safety Shawn Williams has never been a man of many words, but the Georgia senior made it very clear earlier this week what one of his top goals will be heading into the 2012 campaign - become an All-American.

"I want to be a first-team All-American," Williams said during the Pigskin Preview Tuesday in Macon. "I didn't make any of the All-American watch list, so I want to prove to people that I can be one of the top safeties in the conference, an All-American."

Head coach Mark Richt isn't betting against him.

Although the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Williams led the Bulldogs in tackles a year ago with 72, it was fellow safety Bacarri Rambo who received most of the acclaim - and All-American status - after leading the team with nine interceptions, second in the entire country.

However, with Rambo's status for the start of the year still in question after allegedly testing positive for marijuana, Williams will be front and center in a Bulldog secondary already minus starting cornerback Sanders Commings for the first two contests, and may be without corner Branden Smith for at least one.

"I think that's (All-American) a very realistic goal for him because he's what, 220 pounds and can run like a deer," said Richt, who has still not acknowledged any wrongdoing by Rambo or linebacker Alec Ogletree. "He's very physical, has got good football skills and he wants to be great. He's been quite the leader for us as it's been."

Actually, Richt has felt that way for a couple of seasons now.

"He really started the year before that," Richt said. "You hear about guys flipping the switch and I kind of think that's what he did. He became more focused in on preparing and working and not looking around to worry about anything else but taking care of his own business. He's really become a good football player."

Williams still isn't resting on any past laurels.

When asked what he still needs to do to realize his All-American dreams, Williams laughed "I'm still trying to figure that out."

"Big-time players make big-time plays," he continued. "That's what I've got to do out and do."

Health-wise, Williams said he is good to go.

Williams missed much the spring with an MCL sprain, but surgery was not required and he's back to taking part in summer workouts without any ill-effects.

"I stayed here for Maymester to get my knee back to where it was," he said. "I'm back to doing everything. I'm running, doing everything conditioning-wise."

One thing Williams didn't want to do in a conversation with reporters was speculate about which of his teammates may or may not be available for the first part of the 2012 campaign.

Richt has already announced that Commings is suspended for the two games, but everything else surrounding Rambo, Ogletree and Smith remains speculation, and based on continuous no-comments from Richt, any punishments might not be revealed until the season actually begins.

Williams said he's in the dark as well.

"I don't really know what's going to happen," he said. "I really don't want to get into all of that right now because we (the players) just don't know. People are making their own assumptions but we don't know ourselves right now. Hopefully, we'll have everybody back and be able to show what we're able to do as a team."

Whatever happens, Williams said his play won't be affected one way or the other.

"It doesn't affect me that much," he said. "Whoever has to play is going to have to play. Everybody has to play at some point, anyway."

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