He was the number five recruit in the nation coming out of high school in 2011, but incoming Florida State safety Karlos Williams would find himself at a position no one expected when he began his college career. At Florida State where some of the best college football players in the nation are often moved to different positions, such was the case for Williams.
Entering his junior season in 2013 Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher moved Williams from safety to running back. Now a 2015 NFL draft prospect, Williams believes he's got enough tape to convince pro scouts he can make a difference for them with the ball under his arm.
Williams is a physical specimen, at 6-1 and a chiseled 230 pounds. Carrying all that weight and posting a 4.48 40-time at the NFL combine was nothing short of impressive, along with an explosive 1.6-second 10-yard split and a 33 ½-inch vertical.
Standing 6-1, the Davenport, Florida product focused on lowering his pad level as well as his leg drive leading up to the NFL combine. Watching his own game film he wasn't happy with his yardage after contact.
"I had a lot of trouble there this year running through tackles, picking up my knees," said Williams. "So I worked on a lot of little stuff like that. I worked on more technique. Being more explosive, more knee drive. More forward lean."
Working in a committee backfield his final two collegiate seasons, Williams posted over 1,400 yards on 241 carries to average almost six yards a rush (5.9) with 22 touchdowns over those two years. Behind an offensive line that will boast at least two NFL draft choices, Williams had his share of holes.
Still young at the position, NFL clubs were interviewing him at the combine asking him what other areas of his game he was working on. Williams took all the constructive criticism in stride.
"When I was at Florida State I was very self-critical of how I played and what I need to get better on, and we discussed that, in or outside of interviews," said Williams of his talks with NFL teams. "If I'm walking past a coach and he recognizes me, he stops me and tells me, 'Hey, love the film,' or 'This is what you need to work on.' And I really have appreciated it so far and I hope it just keeps happening because the more coaching I get the better I'm going to perform on the next level."
Williams, being a longer body type, also worked to be an effective pass protector for QB Jameis Winston. He showed an ability to slow up defensive linemen in blitz pickup, but was very honest about being a straight-line athlete.
"I really focused on lateral movement, playing with a low center of body gravity for pass protection," he said. "My hips need a lot of work. I'm very tight in the hips, but as far as straight headline speed that's something I've had a God-given ability to do."
Williams' draft value should be enhanced by his effective contributions on special teams for the Seminoles as his safety background made him a reliable coverage unit player. He also has NFL bloodlines. His older brother Vince Williams, also an FSU alum is a linebacker with Pittsburgh after they made him a sixth-round pick in 2013.
An NFL club interested in Williams will have to be patient as he'll need further time to develop as a running back, but his special teams prowess will allow him to contribute in that phase right away. Williams is projected as an early day three draft choice.