In this series of profiles, we are taking a look at some of the under the radar Buckeye players who play a vital role in a championship run. Everyone knows the importance of players like Pryor, Saine, Posey, Brewster, Boren, Heyward, Homan, and Rolle. This series is not about those big name players, rather the indispensable guys that get looked over. Check out #7 Nathan Williams...
Why he is important:
Thaddeus Gibson is gone, and with him left a lot of production for the Ohio State defense. Last year he led the team with tackles for loss (13) and was second on the team in sacks with four. Enter Nathan Williams. He is the only guy on the depth chart who has extensive experience to replace Gibson. Lawerence Wilson graduated and Solomon Thomas and Melvin Fellows have yet to to prove they are ready to play every down.
Williams numbers last season prove he will be a game changer in 2010. Coming off the bench he appeared in all thirteen games, and was third on the team in tackles for loss and sacks behind Heyward and Gibson.
This spring was an interesting one for Williams. First of all, rumors circulated that he was on the borderline academically. Thankfully, the most recent reports coming out of the WHAC indicate that Nathan took care of business, and has his grades in order. This is a big relief, especially considering the fact that Keith Wells didn't do so well in the classroom and has now left school.
The other big news this spring was an interview in which Defensive Coordinator Jim Heacock indicated that Williams is not a slam dunk to start at the Leo position vacated by Thad Gibson's early departure to the NFL. Although it was Williams who took most of the snaps with the number one defense throughout spring practice, Heacock said the spot is wide open. In fact, he suggested that it was pretty much an even competetion between Williams and Soloman Thomas. While it would be a shock if Nate is not in the starting lineup this fall, Thomas is an excellent pass rusher who had another top-notch spring. Williams, on the other hand, did not have an overly impressive performance in the annual Scarlet and Gray Spring Game, finishing with three assisted tackles. However, Nate brings a much more complete package to the table, playing the run and pass with equal effectiveness, so don't put too much stock in his spring performance.
Looking Ahead to 2010:
At 6'3", 260 pounds, with a quick burst off the line of scrimmage, Williams has the perfect skill set to succeed at the Leo position. There have been times the past two years in which he has been the most impressive defensive end on the field for the Buckeyes. That's why you can be sure he will be in the starting lineup September 2nd when Marshall comes to town. With offensive coordinators paying so much attention to Cameron Heyward, look for Nate to spend a lot of time in the opponent's backfield, posting impressive numbers. Without doubt he will be a key perfomer on this year's edition of the Silver Bullets.
10) Ben Buchanan
9) Devon Torrence
8) Etienne Sabino
7) Nate Williams