July 7, 2009

Williams embraces return to safety

Nick Williams joked that as soon as he heard that John Knox was leaving the Georgia program, he figured he'd be getting a phone call from head coach Mark Richt.

He was right.

Williams, who signed as a safety out of Bainbridge High, had just been moved to linebacker to help shore up the depth following a string of injuries to the position.

With Knox gone, Williams was asked to return.

No problem.

"When I found out about John I knew I'd probably be getting a call because we didn't have but like four safeties," Williams said Tuesday. "Once Coach called and said he needed to talk to me I said 'Coach, I already know.' I came in and met. He asked me how I felt about it and I said it didn't matter, I'm fine with it. It's nothing to it."

Williams said it obviously helps that he's played the position before.

Unlike the move to linebacker where he at first struggled to pick up some of plays, going back to safety was just like riding a bike.

"It's actually easier," he said. "At safety, sometimes you need to know what the linebackers are doing so once I went to linebacker it gave me a better grasp of the defense of what we're trying to achieve and each of the defensive sets."

After backing up Rennie Curran at Will, Williams will go into fall camp as a backup to starter Bryan Evans with Quintin Banks and Bacarri Rambo slated to back up Reshad Jones on the strong side.

Redshirt freshmen Makiri Pugh and Sanders Comming will get their opportunities as well.

"Basically, both safety spots are doing the same things; that's why we all have to learn both," he said. "You're doing the same things at some point in the game anyway."

There is one adjustment Williams has had to make. While at linebacker, Williams was in weight-gain mode, and through exercise and supplements, he bulked up to almost 230 pounds.

But now that he's at safety, he's back down to 222 and may go lower.

"I'm at 222 now but I was getting up there," Williams said. "I was trying to get bigger, but now I want to get it down a little bit. As long as I'm still able to run a 4.4 (40-yard dash) I'll be all right."

Williams doesn't believe that will be a problem.

When he first signed with Georgia, he weighed just 195 pounds.

"When I go back and look at my pictures from then I'm like 'Man, I was skinny.' I was like a little stick figure out there when I came in," Williams said. "I don't think the extra weight has hurt my speed at all, but if I need to drop some more I will."

Williams joked that he's had to re-work his thought process since the move back to the secondary.

At Will linebacker, it's "see the ball, get the ball." At safety, while coaches preach aggressiveness, Williams said he can't get too over the top.

"At linebacker you see the ball and you go get it," said Williams, whose five tackles in the G-Day game tied Rambo for the team lead. 'At safety, you need to slow-play it a little. You can be aggressive, but you also need to look at the big picture. At Will, you don't have to worry about technique, you just run to the ball. You have to slow it down a little bit when you're at safety."

If it's up to him, safety won't be Williams' only responsibility.

Williams said he's made it a goal to start on every one of Georgia's special teams where his speed and overall athletic ability could lend itself to good use.

"That's just more time on the field and that's what I want," he said. "I was on the kickoff team a few times last year and I think Coach (Jon) Fabris has gotten more confidence in me. He knows I can run and I like to hit. Youth might have been a factor last year with me being a freshman, but I think he trusts me now."

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