It's easy to follow the Power 5's, the Alabama's, Clemson's, and Ohio State's of the world. You'll hear about Heisman candidates, they'll all come from those schools, they're the poster boys for college football. But college football is more than the syndicate that is the Power 5. It's also full of great, talented players with great stories. At the Roundup we want to introduce you to under the radar Texas players that if you don't know, you should. We'd like you to meet Khalil Williams, Safety from Houston.
6'0, 200 Senior
Missouri City Hightower High School
Awards and Stats
- Finished third on team with 69 tackles.
- 6.5 tackles for loss from his safety position.
- Three pass breakups in 2016.
- Had two sacks in 2016.
- Registered his first career interception vs. UCF in 2015.
Williams played high school football at Fort Bend power Hightower in Missouri City. The Cougars created a pipeline to Hightower under previous coaches including Tony Levine. Williams was a playmaker at Hightower in every facet, defensively as a safety, as a receiver/runner, and a return guy.
As a senior, Williams had four interceptions and two forced fumbles and was tabbed as an All-District performer. Williams was named Hightower's Special Teams Most Valuable Player his senior season. All that got him 3-Stars and four offers, Hawaii, SMU, Texas State and his hometown Cougars.
That was a no brainer for Williams, one of three Hurricanes, to make the 30 minute jump north to Houston including linebacker Matthew Adams. Due to depth issues in 2014 Williams waived his redshirt to contribute in the secondary. After some spot duty as a true freshman and four starts as a sophomore, Williams was ready for prime time. Or at least Houston hoped.
Why you should know him
We could have written this article about Garrett Davis, Williams' running mate in the Cougar secondary. The AAC saw fit to name Davis an all second team performer in 2016. Williams was as productive as Davis and chances are you haven't heard of either of them. That's a shame, because they form one of the most active and versatile safety duos in college football.
Williams thrived in Todd Orlando's system, that didn't surprise Orlando, he believed Williams could be a special player. He was right.
Heading into 2016 the Cougars were expected to take a step back defensively, especially in the secondary after losing Trevon Stewart, William Jackson and Adrian McDonald. Stewart, Jackson and McDonald combined for almost 130 starts. Two of those three went on to sign with NFL teams, Jackson was a first round pick. Most defenses couldn't sustain losing that kind of productivity.
All the 2016 Cougar defense did was improve from 51st to 13th in total defense. Williams was a big part of that improvement.
In Orlando's ultra aggressive 3-4 scheme safeties are put under stress, they're the last line of defense in a unit that puts them on islands. Orlando loved bringing pressure from different angles, typically sending four or five to pressure. Plus Orlando expected his safeties and corners to bring pressure as well. Of Houston's 100 tackles for loss, a quarter came from the secondary. Williams was responsible for 6.5 of those including 2 sacks.
Williams has always had a physical component to his game, an ability/desire to stick his nose in. You see it on his high school tape and it continues into collegiate career. Often times when safeties sit high up on the tackles list for a particular team it's a negative. It can mean that the front seven weren't able to hold up and the secondary had to make tackles. That's not the case with Houston.
The Cougars were second only to Alabama in yards per rush allowed, allowing under three yards per carry in 2016. For Williams to sit third in tackles flanked by Hightower teammate Matthew Adams, Mr. Havoc - Steven Taylor and Freshman All-American Ed Oliver, that's select company.
Expect even more from Williams in his senior year and second season as a full time starter. We're not sure if new coordinator Mark D'Onofrio will use him in the same way, but he's a heck of tool to have in the tool box, versatile and efficient with just enough big play in him to be dangerous.
That's why you should get to know him.