Derek Williams Jr., S
Another true freshman defensive back that could be critical for the Longhorns’ secondary in the second half of the season is safety Derek Williams Jr. The former high-four-star recruit from New Iberia Westgate High School in Louisiana has performed like Texas’ best safety in the last couple of games.
Williams was Texas’ highest-graded safety in the win over Houston last weekend. And he had some really solid plays in the Longhorns’ tough last-minute loss to the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Rivalry game on Oct. 7.
Williams has excelled in pass coverage and contesting space in the last two games. He leads all Texas safeties in quarterback rating against in pass coverage and defensive stops since the Oklahoma game on Oct. 7.
It’s also noteworthy that Williams leads all freshman defensive backs in the Big 12 this season in quarterback rating against and leads Texas in yards per coverage snap.
Williams is the future at safety for the Longhorns upon the move to the SEC in 2024. But he’s proving that he deserves a starting role down the stretch this season while the other Texas safeties have struggled to hold up in pass coverage.
And with senior safety Jalen Catalon still battling an ailment after suffering a lower-body injury against Oklahoma a few weeks ago, now is the time for the Longhorns to get Williams his first career start at field safety against BYU this weekend.