Williams ‘follows the lead’ as Buckeye captain

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Ohio State third-year safety Kourt Williams II speaks to the media on the Woody Hayes Athletic Center practice field after the Buckeyes’ 16th preseason practice August 23. Credit: Casey Smith | Lantern TV Sports Producer

Third-year safety Kourt Williams II is often considered one of Ohio State’s hardest-working players.

The Buckeyes elected Williams one of their six captains August 13, and he said it was “a testament to how my teammates feel about me”.

“It was an honor, truly an honor,” Williams said. “I have a responsibility to them now as captain. I think leadership is not just about talking, it’s about walking. I think they felt that.

Williams arrived at Ohio State as part of the Buckeyes’ 2020 recruiting promotion. While at St. John Bosco High School in California, Williams helped the Braves hold opponents to 10 points or less in eight of 14 games as a four star perspective, according to Rivals.

During the pre-season in 2020, Williams suffered an injury that sidelined him in his proper debut season. He made his Buckeye debut last year and appeared in 11 games, starting the Rose Bowl against Utah, with 27 tackles and a sack.

The Buckeyes have seen Williams make progress in the offseason, which he says played a role in his decision to become captain.

“I’ve always been a leading by example type of guy, but this offseason I’ve really stepped up in terms of being more vocal, letting them feel me,” Williams said.

Sophomore cornerback JK Johnson said he saw Williams guiding the Buckeyes secondary, describing him as “a really good leader.”

“Even off the court and stuff and making sure, like, lifting, we’re good, on time, stuff,” Johnson said. “He’s going to make sure we stay on point and do what we’re supposed to do.”

Standing 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Williams offers versatility on the football field. He said he could “do a lot of things,” like play cornerback or safety, and Ohio State signed him as an outside linebacker.

Wherever he plays on the field in the Buckeyes’ new defense, safety coach Perry Eliano said he’s been impressed with Williams’ work ethic. Eliano said he enjoyed sharing the news of William’s captaincy with Williams’ parents, who were “full of joy”, and he has long since seen proof Buckeye’s safety was a leader.

“Kourt is a terrific worker, and he’s been consistent on and off the court,” Eliano said. “He’s able to put guys out of the way and talk to them and direct them, so it didn’t surprise me when he was voted captain. Ever since I stepped foot on campus, Kourt has been constant and has been this rock.

Williams could be one of Ohio State’s go-to safeties in the secondary under defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ new plan, who said he wants the Buckeyes to play a “safety-focused defense.”

Having learned and practiced defending from Knowles when he arrived in January, Williams said “the offense won’t know what we’re going to do” because of the disguises the Buckeyes will be playing. Williams added that the new defense is “different in a good way”, but he believes it can lead to success.

“When I first saw it, it was a little different,” Williams said. “I knew it would take us a minute to get it. But it’s so complex and so unique, I knew when we got it, it would be dangerous.

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