Texas’ fiery recruiting streak continued Monday afternoon with the commitment of New Iberia (La.) Westgate’s Derek Williamsan industry-generated five-star 247Sports Composite prospect in the 2023 class. An overall top-40 prospect on composite, Williams sits in the top three nationally for safety in both the composite and Top247 rankings.
Williams represents the type of back seven defender who should thrive in the modern game. In the 6-foot-2, 185-pound range, Williams exhibits a commanding physical presence that fits the position that he could easily become a safety/linebacker hybrid, or perhaps even a modern linebacker in his own right. .
The violence of Williams’ game increased noticeably in the fall of 2021, when he displayed a terrific downhill burst and corresponding perimeter chase range. Williams’ height and length allow him to not only frustrate pass catchers on the line of scrimmage when called upon to stand up, but also grab crowd windows.
Additionally, Williams boasts valuable three-phase involvement with big-game juice on offense and in the second leg. With a lack of verified data and multi-sport context, this varied on-court experience adds crucial context when it comes to long-term projection and what we’ve seen in recent NFL Drafts.
Williams arriving on the court very early as a kick coverage option wouldn’t be at all surprising. Williams’ tackling power and consistency of impact have surged in 2021 and should only continue to increase as he adds mass to his big frame. Here’s more about what Texas gets in South Louisiana’s elite defensive star.
Chris Singletary, 247Sports National Analyst: “The Longhorns came into Louisiana and took one of the best in the state. Williams is a talent who brings versatility and athleticism to the back of the Horns. He is able to make the difference, whether he is playing from the safety post, half-pitch or in the box. You get a sample of his skills over the past two seasons as he played in multiple positions in attack and defense. In the long run, he could be a catalyst to help shape defense into the vision that Pete Kwiatkowski has for that.”
Cooper Petagna, 247Sports National Analyst: “Always hard to go to Louisiana and land a player like Williams, especially if you’re from a school that’s not called Bama. Love the physicality in the running game. An Enforcer type player who I think will be better served by playing closer to the line of scrimmage and should see some subpacks.”
247SPORTS RESEARCH REPORT
Seems to have growth potential to add extra weight to its frame. Depending on the position, he could add 15 to 20 pounds to his frame at the next level. Displays good athletic ability in all three phases of the game, exhibiting the positional versatility to play multiple positions on the defensive side of the ball (deep chop, lunge defender, weak side linebacker).
Demonstrates good speed of play and ability to read and react to the safe position. Play downhill and with little unnecessary movement. Can run and hunt showing ability to play in space and side to side. Speed and space type player who would seem to have a smooth transition to a box role if he continues to develop physically.
Flashes some ability to stack and put back in attack, doesn’t lack physical presence to his style of play. The stunning tackler who plays with some violence will hit you. Has the ability to line up on the slot and match up with bigger receivers and tight ends in the passing game.
Depending on the growth potential, one can see getting closer to the line of scrimmage and potentially in the box. Multidimensional solid run-and-cover safety or linebacker.
Covers a lot of ground defensively and will add immediate contributions on special teams. Projects as a high-level, multi-year starter in a next-level Power Five program could potentially be an all-conference linebacker under the right scheme. — Cooper Petagna, 247Sports National Analyst