MACON, Ga. -- Shawn Williams has one individual goal this fall. He wants to add his name to the lengthy list of All-America safeties Georgia’s defense has boasted during the Mark Richt era.
“I want to prove to people that I can have my picture up in the locker room as an all-American,” Williams said Tuesday at the annual Pigskin Preview at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Of course, every player wants to earn such recognition, but Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said it is an imminently achievable objective for his senior safety.
“I think that’s a very realistic goal for him because he’s about 6-1 or 6-2, 220 pounds and can run like a deer and he’s physical,” Richt said. “He’s got good ball skills, he knows the system and he wants to be great. I mean he’s become quite a good leader for us, as well.”
Williams could reasonably be described as an unsung hero in Georgia’s defensive turnaround last fall, when it ended the season ranked fifth nationally in total defense. He led the team with 72 tackles and was one of the Bulldogs’ most consistent defenders from his strong safety position, but outside linebacker Jarvis Jones and safety Bacarri Rambo garnered the vast majority of the postseason attention -- including first-team All-America selections for both players.
Granted, Jones and Rambo also made more highlight-reel plays -- Jones by leading the SEC with 13.5 sacks and Rambo by leading the league with eight interceptions -- while Williams quietly went about his task of playing efficient defense.
With that in mind, he isn’t exactly sure how to earn more national attention other than to keep doing what he has been doing and hope people notice.
“Who knows? I’m still trying to figure out,” Williams said. “I guess I’ve just got to go out and play and just win and be a game-changer -- be that guy like they say, ‘Big-time players make big-time plays,’ so I guess that’s what I have to go out and do.”
As Williams said, winning will help his cause -- and the Bulldogs should do plenty of that. A gambling website on Tuesday listed Georgia as one of four teams favored to win every game in the regular season, which would obviously keep the Bulldogs’ top defensive players on the national radar.
Safeties such as Sean Jones, Thomas Davis, Greg Blue and Tra Battle played key roles in Georgia’s winning ways early in Richt’s tenure and each player earned an all-America designation in the process, just as Rambo did last season.
Williams believes that if he plays a similar role on a successful team, national attention will also come his way “just because I go out on the field and feel like I’m the best at how I play.”