Monday, July 26, 2010
2010 Countdown: #39 Mike Williams
Name: Mike Williams
Weight: 190 lbs.
High school: St. Bonaventure High School in Santa Yuez, CA
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #40
Last year: I ranked Williams #17 and said "Big hitter needs to solidify safety spot." He did not, although he recorded 56 tackles.
By the end of last year, a lot of people had given up on Mike Williams. He came in as a pretty big-time recruit after playing in the Army All American Game but redshirted as a freshman, partly due to injury. With the regime change that came prior to the 2008 season, Williams was kind of thrown under the bus - not on purpose, but by circumstance. Under Lloyd Carr and Ron English, Williams was being groomed to play the slot corner position that Brandon Harrison played so effectively. That position was essentially eliminated with the hiring of new defensive coordinator Scott Shafer, and Williams moved to safety.
That's where he remained in 2009 with the hiring of Greg Robinson, but Ron English had a bead on Williams (whom English recruited out of California) that the two subsequent coordinators have not. English could see that Williams wasn't great playing in space, which is why he intended to play Williams over the slot. Due to shoddy recruiting, injuries, and what MGoBlog has deemed "Angry Michigan Safety Hating God," Williams found himself covering deep zones in 2009. If you're wondering how that worked out, check out the 2009 Michigan-Iowa game. Yeah . . . not good. In addition, Williams was prevented from playing special teams in 2009, a unit on which Williams blocked a punt and made 11 special teams tackles in the previous year.
For spring 2010 Williams moved to Spur, which is essentially the position Steve Brown occupied in 2009; it's a linebacker/safety hybrid, one that won't have deep responsibilities very often (if at all) and will largely be supporting the run. This fits Williams's strengths well. He dropped to third on the depth chart in the spring (behind Thomas Gordon and Floyd Simmons), but the story's not over for Williams. He'll face stiff competition from incoming freshmen as well, but Williams has this year and 2011 to make his mark. If he can become more disciplined (Illinois quarterback Juice Williams embarrassed #40 several times last year), he has the speed and hitting ability to be a good player. If nothing else, he should be flying downfield on coverage units.
Prediction for 2010: Backup spur, special teams coverage