This is the 39th in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 19 days until FSU football, and that's how many are left on the list. That means no off days. Oh, and these are not in any specific order.
Vince Williams | 6'1 250 | RS-Senior | Linebacker
Earned a four-star ranking as an inside linebacker as a high school senior...named Polk County Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and all-county honors as a sophomore...amassed almost 300 tackles with 48 tackles for loss and 25 sacks over three varsity seasons...earned 3A second-team All-State honors as a senior...co-MVP of the Scout.com combine in Jacksonville...chose Florida State over LSU, Ohio State and Florida... older brother of fellow Seminole Karlos who was a sophomore in 2012...born December 27, 1989. Courtesy: School Bio
Vince Williams was fairly impressive as a freshman in limited time, and along with Nigel Bradham and Nigel Carr, gave FSU fans visions of an excellent linebacker corps in 2010 and 2011.
The trio never really materialized like some believed it would, though, as Williams injured his back in 2009. He definitely lost a bit of a step (not that Williams was ever the quickest or most agile linebacker), but bounced back in 2010 and was able to back up Kendall Smith.
In 2011, he earned the starting job, holding off a challenge from Telvin Smith. Williams played fairly well. He was mostly good against the run. Against the pass, he could be a liability, but it seemed that the defensive staff realized this more and more with each passing game and limited his liability and exposure against the pass. Florida State isn't about to hand out the play calls, but from what we can tell, Williams was fairly assignment sound.
This spring we wrote:
"Vince Williams is the only true senior that returns to the linebacking corps (well, technically two but we'll get to that in a bit). Williams impressed last year in that he earned the starting job at middle linebacker. He finished 5th in total tackles. While he may not make the splashy highlight reel hits often, he continually did his job and played his position, not trying to do other people's assignments. As a middle linebacker, this is of utmost importance. What resulted was a solid performance that had many 'Nole fans pleased and in many cases surprised with his level of play. Look for Williams to continue to mature as a smart, heady player. For Vince to have a shot at the second level, he will need to be even better this year and that all starts with a solid spring performance."
TN's 2012 Outlook:
Linebackers across the nation dream of playing in a situation such as the one facing the FSU corps this season. With one of the best defensive lines in the country, Florida State linebackers will have plenty of opportunities to rack up gaudy stats in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks as their stout teammates chew up blockers and divert play angles in front of them. Middle linebacker Vince Williams will be a beneficiary of these circumstances for the Seminoles this season. The ‘Noles linebacker position has found itself increasingly thin and features likely starters of stud Christian Jones and the relatively green (at linebacker) Nick Moody alongside Williams.
Though Telvin Smith saw a significant amount of snaps at Mike last season, he is not a lock to pass up Williams as many have speculated elsewhere. Smith was not with the team for some of the summer due to concerns with grades, and Jimbo Fisher recently described him as being reinstated. Williams likely has the inside track to the starting position, and should see a large portion of the snaps there in 2012, though nothing is set in stone as of yet (heck, the 'Noles have not even had their first scrimmage of the fall).
He will need to continue to do what he did well last season - namely consistently fulfilling his responsibilities and being in the proper position. He doesn't need to be a world-beater at middle linebacker and nobody is expecting him to be. Progression for Vince Williams in the same role that 2011 saw him play would provide valuable senior leadership in the middle of the defense and would likely land him among the team's leading tacklers.
Ultimately, it is on the coaches to self scout and understand what Williams does well and to put him in a position to maximize his effectiveness. Jimbo Fisher often talks about being "situation smart." The defensive staff will need to do a good job of being situation smart in knowing when to play Williams and when to play Smith.