#44 Chris Williams
Position: Defensive Line
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Thoughts: The more time that passes the easier it is to look back at the Cards pick up of Williams back in late 2015 as one of the bigger gets in that class. As a quick refresher, Williams was a former Mississippi commit who ended up going the JUCO route, and then just so happened to help lead the defense on a National Champion JUCO squad. Williams enrolled early last year and got a bit of a jump on the Grantham system, learning terminology, placement, etc. (Williams appeared in 11 games last year even with some experienced guys in the mix) Williams will be part of the senior-heavy rotation up front in 2017, pegged as the starting end alongside Richardson and Bailey heading into the fall. Without Williams that void would have likely fallen on an underclassman and the defense may have been in a tough spot while he got his feet wet so to speak the first few weeks. Sliding in an experienced Chris Williams was a great luxury for Grantham last season that will pay dividends in 2017.
Even after losing DeAngelo Brown, Keith Kelsey, JHC, and Devonte Fields, the Cards are still not in a rebuild mode and will field numerous experienced guys on that side of the ball for what seems like about 4 years straight. He may have made you pull your hair out on third down or shake your head at his inability to adapt, but Grantham and company were bringing some solid athletes into the fold the last three years and slowly getting them reps as freshman and sophomores so they knew what was expected of them once their number was called. The good news is that a couple of the best recruiters are still wearing red and black, and I don't anticipate that trend to change anytime soon. Williams was described as a pitbull with violent hands when he stepped on campus, and although his role wasn't always to be the aggressor up front I'd love to see some more out of him in 2017 in that regard. I don't think topping his 27 tackles and one sack from last year will be much of a challenge, but I'm really wanting to see a flashback to early Grantham were the Cards were actively seeking turnovers, ripping at balls, and forcing the QB to make poor throws.
The "turnovers gained" (interceptions/fumble recoveries) statistic has dropped each of the last three seasons for UofL and when you toss in the offenses inability to hold on to the football the turnover margin has gone from being #2 in the country back in 2013 (+17) to being in the bottom 17% in 2016 (-7). We saw firsthand how turnovers in Death Valley and at home against the team from the east put the Cards in an uphill battle, or allowed the opponent an opportunity to control their own fate. Both of those ended poorly for the Cards.
I'm excited to see what the experienced front can do this year to provide some stability while hopefully seeing some of the young guns get some reps in preparation for 2018 and beyond. While depth is a concern long term, my gut tells me we may have two NFL caliber players with their hand in the dirt this year.
Been a lot of fake kickin it going on— Chris Williams (@Chris5_) January 16, 2017
Wow, shots fired at Blanton Creque. He's not gonna stand for that nonsense. He is on my no helmet squad after all.