Williams ‘walking the walk’ as Buckeye captain

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

Third-year safety Kourt Williams II is often regarded as one of the hardest-working players at Ohio State.

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

“It was an honor, a real honor,” Williams said. “I have a responsibility to them now as captain. I believe that leadership is not just about talking for the sake of talking, but also about walking the walk. I think they felt that.”

Williams came to Ohio State as part of the Buckeyes recruiting class of 2020. At St. John Bosco High School in California, Williams helped the Braves hold opponents to 10 points or fewer in eight of 14 games as a prospect. four star according to rivals.

During the 2020 preseason, Williams suffered an injury that sidelined him from his true freshman season. He made his Buckeye debut last year and played in 11 games, starting the Rose Bowl against Utah, with 27 tackles and a sack.

The Buckeyes saw Williams come on in leaps and bounds during the offseason, which he said he believes played a role in his becoming captain.

“I’ve always been the kind of guy that walks the talk, but this offseason I really stepped up in terms of being more expressive, letting them feel me,” Williams said.

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Sophomore cornerback JK Johnson said he has watched Williams lead the Buckeyes’ secondary, calling him “a really good leader.”

“Even off the field and stuff and making sure we get up, we’re good, on time, all of that,” Johnson said. “He’s going to make sure we stay on point and do what we’re supposed to do.”

At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Williams brings versatility on the football field. He said he can “do a lot of things,” like play cornerback or safety, and Ohio State drafted him at outside linebacker.

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

“Kourt is a tremendous worker and is consistent on and off the field,” Eliano said. “He’s able to push guys aside and talk to them and just guide them, so I wasn’t surprised when he was elected captain. Ever since I stepped foot on campus, Kourt has been consistent and has been that rock.”

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

Having learned and practiced defense from Knowles upon his arrival in January, Williams said “the offense won’t know what we’re going to do” because of the costumes the Buckeyes will wear. Williams added that the new defense is “different in a good way” but believes it can lead to success.

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

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