Texas Football: Derek Williams Jr. is a ‘sponge for information’

Steve Sarkisian, Texas football
Steve Sarkisian, Texas football /

Among the biggest immediate contributors for Texas football early this season from the 2023 signing class is the former elite blue-chip recruit out of New Iberia (LA) Westgate High School, true freshman safety Derek Williams Jr. Williams has played over 100 defensive snaps over three games to start his true freshman campaign this fall.

That ranks third among all safeties for defensive snaps this season.

The coaching staff clearly trusts Williams to get some of these key live-game snaps in the DB rotation early this season. He’s one of three true freshmen on the Texas defense with over 100 defensive snaps after Week 4. The other two are linebacker Anthony Hill Jr. (118 snaps) and cornerback Malik Muhammad (119).

Williams is showing maturity well beyond his years in college early this season. He’s got tremendous instincts and feel for the game for a true freshman at safety. Williams leads all Texas defenders in tackling grade (86.0) this season. He’s got eight combined tackles, one defensive stop, and no missed tackles.

Texas football S Derek Williams Jr. is reportedly a “sponge for information” this fall

He is proving that, despite enrolling during the summer, Williams was ready to immediately impact the Longhorns’ secondary. This sentiment was echoed in a recent practice report from Eric Nahlin of Inside Texas this week (paid content).

This IT report notes that Williams is “quiet and just takes everything in”. He’s also reportedly a “sponge for information”.

Sark praises Williams for his coverage ability against Baylor

Head coach Steve Sarkisian heaped praise on Williams and Muhammad for their coverage ability they’ve shown in games and practices this year.

Sark said in his Thursday press conference on Sep. 28 that he thinks Williams and Muhammad “played their best football” in the convincing 38-6 win on the road in Waco last weekend over the Baylor Bears.

The staff showed more trust in Williams in the win over Baylor, as he got a career-high 54 defensive snaps in that game. That was the most snaps taken by any Texas defensive back and the second most of any defender on the team behind senior linebacker Jaylan Ford (64 snaps).

Williams is a critical piece of the safety room as a true freshman this fall

Williams’ contributions are invaluable, with Texas keeping senior safety Jalen Catalon on an apparent pitch count this season to keep him healthy. He’s getting meaningful reps at key points in games for Texas in the last couple of weeks against Baylor and the Wyoming Cowboys.

He’s on track to continue to be one of the most impactful freshman safeties in the Big 12 as Texas is in the midst of conference play heading into the Week 5 matchup against the No. 24 Kansas Jayhawks at home on Sep. 30.

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