Just a year ago at this time, Karlos Williams was trying to win a starting safety job with one of the deepest and most talented secondaries in the country.
This season, he will enter fall camp as the Florida State Seminoles’ starting running back.
After one game last season, the Seminoles, lacking depth behind Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Jr., moved Williams from safety to running back and it immediately paid dividends. Williams rushed for a 65-yard touchdown on his first career college attempt and wound up rushing for 110 yards on just eight carries in a 62-7 win over the Nevada Wolfpack.
On the season, Williams rushed for 730 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 91 attempts (8.0 yards per carry).
Williams entered Florida State out if Davenport Ridge High School with a lot of hype. He was given the label of 5-star prospect and was ranked among the top 10 prospects in the country by nearly every recruiting service.
There were many, including Seminoles’ head coach Jimbo Fisher, who believed Williams was better suited for offense, but Williams seemed dead set on playing safety, something Fisher and his staff promised he could do.
After struggling to find the playing time he desired during his first two seasons, he filled in for an injured Nick Moody at linebacker in the 2012 ACC Championship Game and recorded the game-sealing interception in a 21-16 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets that gave the Seminoles their first conference title since 2005.
That gave Williams hope on the defensive end, but he never looked completely comfortable on that side of the ball. After Mario Pender was ruled ineligible and injuries mounted in the Seminoles’ back field, Williams made the switch.
With Freeman and Wilder both declaring for the draft, Williams will finally have his chance to live up to his enormous billing.
Williams got a lot of his carries while playing in blowouts and was mostly a straight-line runner, but with his mix of size (6’1, 223 pounds) and speed (he has served as one of the Seminoles’ kick returners over the last three seasons), Williams obviously has the talent to be an elite running back.
The craziest part about Williams’ success in 2013 is that he made the switch after the season began and has really never had a chance to simply focus on becoming a fundamentally better running back rather than preparing for the next opponent until now.
With the Seminoles returning four starters along the offensive line (plus they return senior center Austin Barron, who has a lot of experience) and Williams having a full offseason to learn the position, he could be a dark-horse Heisman Trophy contender and could see his move to running back really pay off when the 2015 NFL Draft rolls around.