Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Williams is rated as the No. 12 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 15 player coming out of California.
Let’s take a look at how Williams will impact Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class.
On The Field
One of the biggest things that attracted Kourt Williams to Ohio State was the bullet position. The fact that the Buckeyes are introducing the new position to their defense and the playing time that could provide a player like Williams early enough in his career, was sure to appeal to any linebacker or safety Ohio State thought fit best into the spot.
It’s pretty clear why Al Washington, Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley like Williams the most for the position – he’s physical. He can lay a hat on a ball carrier, and his speed in the box allows him to close space quickly.
He already plays a similar role to the bullet position for St. John Bosco, where he lines up out in space, just outside the box, in position to play either a run or a pass. He can get away with that because of his speed and his ability to identify plays quickly, a trait that is crucial to the bullet position.
Here in this clip, he lines up in an outside linebacker position then dives inside when the running back gets the ball, except that he overruns the play, thanks to two blockers. He evades the blockers and continues to approach the play from behind. He catches the carrier from behind only a few yards downfield. He has plenty of plays on his reel where he makes plays from the linebacker position, but this was the play that will translate the most at the next level.
In this clip, he lines up as a nickel or a safety across from the middle receiver in a trips package, and he’s given two responsibilities with safety help behind him. He puts himself into position to play the pass if his receiver breaks inside or play the carrier if the inside receiver gets the ball. While the play is happening, he eludes the outside receiver, doesn’t bite when his own receiver tries to clear him out and then attacks the ball carrier when he gets the ball. It’s a simple zone scheme but he executes like a safety would but as a linebacker in his defense.
Williams can play both positions well, so using skills from both of those positions won’t be too difficult once he learns the approach from the bullet position.
In The Class
Kourt Williams represents the first player the Ohio State staff has brought in solely for the bullet position. That was what attracted Williams to the program. Whenever a staff introduces a new position on defense, it will either have a specific incoming player to introduce to the position and/or will be thin at that spot until it brings in players that best serve the skillset for the position. That means players that are recruited for the position will have a good chance of getting onto the field early in their careers. Williams is no different.
If Williams didn’t play bullet, he would likely play safety in the Big Ten, but Ohio State has already brought in Lathan Ransom. But what makes those two different from each other is the way Ransom plays in the passing game, where he can scan the field and either play on the run or play deep down the field in coverage, which he is very good at.
That’s similar to the way Williams plays at linebacker. He scans the backfield but has to make a decision quickly, which translates well to the bullet position, where decisions need to happen quicker than anyone else on the defensive side of the ball.
At this point, Ohio State has addressed nearly every position of need for the class, save for the running back position, which should be filled in the next week or so with Bijan Robinson and/or Jaylan Knighton.
While Williams is rated as a four-star prospect, he isn’t rated as high as some of the others in the class, which could be attributed to the fact that he’s caught between two positions, but he could be one of the first to see the field from the 2020 class because of what he will need to be used for and because so few players can actually play the bullet position well.
Off The Field
Williams represents the second California commitment for the Buckeyes in the 2020 class, which can be credited to Jeff Hafley in large part. But even though the staff has recruited the West Coast with success this cycle, Ryan Day said it wasn’t particularly a point of emphasis.
“It’s not an emphasis,” Day said to the media at Big Ten Media Days. “It wasn’t like I said, ‘Hey guys, let’s recruit California or out that way.’ That wasn’t the case. I think it’s just the way this cycle has worked. I don’t have a lot of ties out there. Things happen in cycles. I’d be surprised if it was the same way next year. I think we’ll maybe be in Texas or the Southeast next year. It’s just the way it worked this year.”
It’s clear that Day’s strategy is to go where the top recruits are, and he can do that with the current staff that he has. The Buckeyes hit on some of those big guys, and Kourt Williams is one of them – probably one of the top-five prospects built to play the bullet position in the country.