By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Before the season began, Stillwater High School junior King Williams was known more for his exploits on the wrestling mat than his play on the gridiron.
But in his second season with the varsity team, the undersized and often underrated safety has become a force to be reckoned with in the Pioneer secondary with three interceptions and 49 tackles.
“He’s just really instinctive football player,” Stillwater coach Tucker Barnard said. “We talk about having a nose for the football and a lot of times that’s really all it is. It’s just an instinct he has. He’s good at reading a quarterback’s body language and a quarterback’s eyes. He doesn’t get himself too far out of position. He has great athleticism, so he doesn’t have to overreact to things that he sees. He’s calm and confident and then when the ball is thrown, he just seems to be in the position he needs to be in.”
Williams may be having a breakout season in Stillwater’s secondary, but he has proven to be more than just a defensive specialist for the Pioneers.
Modeling his game after former Louisiana State safety Tyrann Matheiu, Williams has turned into a dangerous kickoff return man and has even taken some snaps at quarterback in the Wildcat formation.
“It gets pretty tiring, but I’ve got to do whatever I can to help the team,” Williams said. “(The Wildcat) is kind of a special play they have for me. If I’m on offense, they don’t throw me the ball a lot. I guess I’m a guy they want to get the ball to a lot, so this is one way to do it.”
“He’s so athletic, that you have to find ways to put the ball in his hands,” Barnard said. “We have a little bit more need for it now with Braxton (Noble) out, but we’ve been trying to get him the ball more and more each game. With Braxton out, you have got to make sure that you have a plan in place in case Taggart (Brown) goes down, so that’s kind of our way of preparing for in case that situation happens.”
The last two weeks, it’s become a rarity that Williams has come off the field. That’s where his conditioning as a wrestler has come into play.
“There’s nothing harder than wrestling a guy for six minutes,” Williams said. “I think wrestling helps a lot with football. Not only am I conditioned to be out there the whole time, but it also helps me get low on tackles.”
If that isn’t enough, Williams also has his cousin — Stillwater senior wide receiver Darian Williams — helping him away from practice. At 6-foot-5-inches, Darian Williams may tower over the 5-foot-4, 135-pound junior, but Barnard said King Williams likely doesn’t back down during the family’s touch football games.
“He’s just a confident kid,” Barnard said. “He has that fearlessness that you want out of every player on your team. It doesn’t matter if he’s going up against someone that’s a foot taller than he is, he doesn’t consider his size an issue. A lot of that has to do with his athleticism, but most of that is just his confidence and the way he carries himself.”
Whether it’s going up against his cousin in a backyard football game or picking off an unsuspecting quarterback under the lights of Pioneer Stadium, each play continues to help boost the confidence of a player who most coaches would think is too small to play the safety position.
“Every time I make a play or something, I always have teammates come up to me and say, ‘You’re really good for a little guy,’” King Williams said. “They just make me feel a little bit better about myself and that just helps boost my confidence even more.”