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Old 04-27-2010, 02:51 PM   #1
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swg is a jewel in the roughswg is a jewel in the roughswg is a jewel in the rough
Chris Williams Shines at Nickel

During a recent Bearcats practice, Chris Williams lined up in the nickel cornerback position with the first team, as the sophomore has all spring.

All of a sudden, former classmate at Winton Woods high school Maalik Bomar, was placed next to him at the linebacker spot.

A laughing smile came across both of their faces.

"I said, 'Maalik, it's like high school!" Williams recalled yelling at his friend. "It's back to high school again!"

Williams and Bomar reverting to the form of their 2008 Warriors team is good news for more reasons than the fact they went 11-2 and finished the year ranked No. 8 in Ohio Division II.

For Williams in particular, it reflects an inner feeling this spring that the talent which landed his four-star rating at UC has finally overcome a freshman season marred by injury and uneasiness.

These days, the UC cornerback is confident. And it's reflected in the giant leap forward he enjoyed this spring.

Fans witnessed it Saturday as Williams broke through the line to turn a halfback sweep into a 5-yard loss on a first unit that didn't allow a score.

To be fair, nobody is placing Williams at the top of the cornerback hierarchy, his edge man coverage hasn't progressed far enough for such a statement. But Williams asserted himself into the top nickel cornerback by lettting go of the hesitancy which kept him locked to the bench for much of his freshman year.

"I feel really comfortable," said Williams, a first-team all-state selection and Tri-State Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Winton Woods. "These coaches are more family orientated. It's kind of bringing me back to high school. And having my high school players with me at the same time, that makes me more comfortable. Plus, now having the confidence being out there on the field getting most of the reps."

A near tear of his MCL in the second game of the season last year forced Williams to miss more than half of the season.

"It was frustrating," Williams said. "I couldn't travel to most of away games. I was at home most of the time with a brace on in my bed. It was horrible, but I did what I had to do."

He would return against South Florida and play out the rest of the schedule, but he never fully recovered.

"When I tried to backpedal I couldn't cut," Williams said. "I kept getting stuck, I was iffy about working it too hard. I was worried about messing it up again."

His body broke down. In the process, so did his spirit.

"He arrived on campus as a confident player," his position coach Kerry Coombs said. "Getting banged up physically and getting hurt, I thought he sunk pretty low after that. I felt like he got back to where he was before he was injured. I do think he is starting to grow and mature. He is not where he is going to be, but he is a lot further along than he was at the end last season."

His progress arrives just in time. On a defense without a starting senior, the defensive backfield owns the inauspicious title of youngest group. Williams owns the title of nickel corner and wears it as clear as the tattoos emblazoned on his arms.

"I want to take it full speed," he said. "I want to know it like I know myself. I want that to be part of myself. I feel like that about any position I play. I want to make whatever I am doing, make my role a part of me."

Coombs sees Williams maybe eventually molding into a safety role and certainly as a key member of special teams this year. It brings into question whether his 6-foot, 190-pound body will be able to absorb the beating or break down again.

One lesson Williams learned from last year was to stop worrying about those questions. Following Saturday's spring game, he doesn't have time.

There is a defense to master, plays to be made and, most importantly, fun to be had.

Just like in high school.

"I feel really confident," Williams said. "I still got a whole summer to go, a whole lot of work to do. I want to get to know the nickel position like the back of my hand. I would say I am prepared, but I am not ready. I am prepared but I won't know until that first snap at Fresno."

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Old 04-27-2010, 03:18 PM   #2
Daniel Drake
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Cnati.com has been very good in their coverage of all Cincinnati sports. Hopefully C. Trent can get the funds to keep it going long term. Sure as hell beats the Enquirer.com.
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Old 04-27-2010, 03:24 PM   #3
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Good call on that.
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chris williams, defense, uc football

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