This is the 41st in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 17 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
Karlos Williams | 6'1, 230 | Sophomore | Safety
Background (Courtesy of Seminoles.com bio)
A hard-hitting, consensus five-star safety with good size, who was ranked the No. 2 safety, No. 8 player nationally and No. 2 player in the state of Florida by Rivals.com...rated the No. 22 overall player and the No. 2
safety in the nation by Scout.com...rated the No. 1 safety and the No. 7 player nationally by 247 Sports...selected to the Under Armour All-American game...All-USA second team defense by USA Today...No. 17 on the Sporting News Top 100 for 2011...No. 5 on the ESPNU 150 and rated the No. 1 safety prospect...No. 9 on Tom Lemming's MaxPreps.com 2011 Top 100...No. 12 on Bill Buchalter's 2011 Florida Top 100 for the Orlando Sentinel...No. 10 on Mobile Press-Register Super Southeast 120...member of the Florida Times-Union's Super 75 where he was rated as the No. 1 safety...No. 8 on the SuperPrep Elite Top 50, No. 3 on the SuperPrep Florida 110 and the SuperPrep Dixie Defensive Player of the Year...First Team All-Polk County by the Lakeland Ledger...also played running back and ran 69 times for 564 yards (8.2 yards per carry) and scored seven touchdowns as a senior...as junior, had 102 tackles and three interceptions and was listed in The Associated Press South Region 25 list of top recruits...brother is Vince Williams, who is a rising senior linebacker at Florida State...born May 4, 1993.
Career to Date
As a freshman last year, former blue-chip safety recruit Karlos WIlliams saw most of his playing time come on special teams. He wasn't expected to make too much of a defensive impact in his first year behind free safeties Terrance Parks and Nick Moody, but his elite athleticism translated into early success as a kick returner and on kick coverage.
Although Moody missed time with an injury, Williams still did not earn much defensive playing time, due to the veteran presence of Parks and the ascension of Terrence Brooks. Knowing he wouldn't get much burn on defense, Williams was admittedly less than dedicated in his attempt to master Mark Stoops' scheme last fall, which steepened his learning curve even further. Here's what Bud wrote on Williams in the spring:
Backing up Brooks and attempting to take his job is Karlos Williams, a five-star recruit. I should note, as I have in the past, that Williams would have also been a five-star athlete recruit or a five-star receiver recruit. He was asked to move positions in the off-season, to offense, but declined because he said he felt comfortable in Mark Stoops' scheme.
Williams is an incredible athlete, perhaps the best FSU has had in some time. But there is also more to playing defense than athleticism. Instincts and mentality matter, and that is one of the reasons Brooks is ahead of Williams. Stoops is simply not going to play a safety who presents a greater potential for coverage busts.
As Bud noted, there was a lot of speculation entering spring about Los taking his elite combination of size and speed to the other side of the ball to play running back or wide-out. He declined, however, ultimately deciding that the Seminoles' existing depth on offense and his new-found devotion to learning the defensive system were reason enough to stay put at DB for the time being. That hasn't done much to stop the speculation of a position change for Williams, though.
The fact that Williams is quite possibly the most dynamic player on the Florida State roster makes it necessary to try and get him on the field in any way possible, thus justifying the endless discussion about reallocating his talents.
Brooks has held a firm grasp on the starting spot at free safety opposite Lamarcus Joyner since spring, so it doesn't seem likely that 'Los will be able to crack the starting lineup on the back line. Jimbo Fisher did mention Tuesday that there had been talk about moving Brooks outside to corner following the dismissal of Greg Reid and inserting Williams at FS. But Fisher then added that the safety spot is much tougher to learn, which is another indicator that Williams still doesn't have the same level of understanding of the position at this point.
Chatter about a possible move down to linebacker in the future has not ceased either. Williams' 230-pound frame would be a good fit at backer, and he would not be relied on as heavily in pass defense, where his instincts have been questioned (similar to Moody, who converted to LB in the spring). All of the experimentation and speculation is certainly a testament to his insane athletic ability. But because of FSU's talent across the board, it remains to be seen where he will actually make an impact defensively in 2012.
One thing that remains certain is Williams' presence on kick returns. He figures to be one of FSU's primary return men, probably alongside Joyner. The two combined to form a dangerous return tandem last season, with Williams averaging 23.8 yards per return (which would have been higher were it not for penalties negating some returns) and Joyner putting up 30.5 per attempt. The pair will have to work with new kick return rules this year, however, which could help opposing teams contain them a bit better.
Williams showed flashes of his ability last season, with one of his more memorable moments coming on a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown against Miami that was negated by a weak holding call on James Wilder, Jr. The return can be seen right around the 4:20 mark in the video below. It's a short highlight that ultimately didn't stand in the game, but Los' explosiveness is impressive as he hits the hole and pulls away from defenders. Really impressive for a 230-pound man, so it's certainly easy to see how people get excited about the thought of him on offense.
It will be very interesting to watch Williams' development within the defense and see how the coaching staff chooses to use his versatility going forward. The 2012 season may give us a better idea of how well Williams' instincts fit at the safety spot or whether he'll end up elsewhere in the future. When a kid has this much talent, though, it is tough to keep him off the field.