Craig Younger and Ronnie Hickman – a pair of versatile chess items within the again seven of Ohio State’s protection – every match the profile of every thing the coaches have ever mentioned they search in anyone on the bullet, even relationship again to when former defensive coordinator Greg Mattison created the place out of skinny air quickly after getting employed in 2019.
Younger has been an exceptionally athletic linebacker and Hickman has been an exceptionally bodily security. So, when Kerry Coombs and Ryan Day determined this offseason to truly implement the bullet into their defensive plans after making an attempt to take action two years in the past and failing, their shifts to the hybrid linebacker/security function made full sense. They spent the spring at their new spot, every manned it for 50-plus snaps within the spring recreation and entered the summer season realizing what’s anticipated of them at bullet.
However there’s one other man who’ll be within the combine come this fall. Any person who has but to make his collegiate debut however who shouldn’t go forgotten. A 6-foot-1, 215-pound redshirt freshman who has but to play a snap in an Ohio State uniform.
Second-year Kourt Williams, who has been out of fee since tearing his ACL in October, will be a part of Younger and Hickman within the image at bullet as soon as wholesome.
“Whereas these two children are totally different, and Kourt Williams could be the third piece of that puzzle, you’re taking a look at several types of gamers,” Coombs mentioned a couple of weeks in the past. “Once they’re on the sphere, you’re gonna wish to emphasize what they do finest.”
Williams possesses arguably essentially the most intriguing mixture of linebacker and security expertise of the three hybrid defenders.
At their cores, Younger is a linebacker and Hickman is a security. They have been recruited to Ohio State as such. Williams is the one one of many three delivered to Columbus with the expressed intention of changing into a bullet.
Even a 12 months in the past, when the bullet clearly wasn’t going to be an everyday a part of the Buckeyes’ 2020 protection, the coaches have been nonetheless penciling him in for that kind of function. For that purpose, he began his profession with the defensive backs relatively than the linebackers, as many had projected.
“I feel he suits (the bullet) like a glove,” Washington mentioned final 12 months. “His drawback is he’s too daggone quick – he’s as quick as a security. So he’s actually gifted. On his movie, he performed a bullet-type place, and he’s received contact braveness. He’ll go up and hit and he’s no drawback sticking his face in there, placing his physique in there. However he’s a extremely good athlete, man, and he can cowl floor.”
Because the 2020 season creeped nearer, it appeared attainable that Williams – who enrolled early and took benefit of the time on campus – would safe a constant spot on Ohio State’s protection. He appeared to choose up momentum because the opener drew nearer. Day went so far as to say he would personally be “shocked” if Williams by no means turns into a captain for the Buckeyes. That’s not one thing usually mentioned a few true freshman who hadn’t ever suited up for the crew, however compliments of the Californian haven’t been international to the pinnacle coach.
On the day Williams signed his Nationwide Letter of Intent, Day mentioned Ohio State bringing him in stemmed from the “same idea” Clemson had when it used former All-American Isaiah Simmons in a do-everything capability.
A excessive bar? Actually. But it’s additionally telling when a coach who doesn’t usually exit of his option to speak in hyperbole about freshmen had no drawback setting all these expectations for Williams. Matt Barnes, the defensive backs coach, had equally optimistic phrases to say about him final fall.
“I feel Kourt’s an impressive participant and probably the greatest younger males that I’ve ever been round,” he mentioned in October.
Sadly for Williams, he couldn’t assist the Buckeyes in Yr 1. Just a bit over every week earlier than the beginning of the 2020 season, he was dominated out for the 12 months with a torn ACL.
The ill-timed harm prevented him from attempting to assist a horrid cross protection, saved him out of winter exercises and compelled him to spend spring camp rehabbing. Offered he doesn’t expertise any setbacks, he ought to be again to motion in time for preseason camp. Even by the ultimate practices of the spring, Day beforehand mentioned, he thought Williams would have the ability to do some on-field actions.
“We now have a very good place, I feel, for Kourt in what we’re doing,” Day mentioned in late March.
So long as he stays on track, he ought to discover himself proper again within the combine at bullet, which Ohio State really plans to make a continuing in its protection this 12 months.
Williams, since he hasn’t taken the sphere snap for the Buckeyes, may be a forgotten identify by some. By the autumn, it’s laborious to think about him remaining an unknown as this protection tries to rebound from an abysmal 2020 season.