Cornerback Steve Williams does not appear to be your prototypical cover corner. The roster lists him at a short 5-foot-10 and a meager 174 pounds and that's on a good day. His hometown resides in Dallas, which is pretty far apart from Berkeley when you register that on a culture scale.
But then again, Williams plays like a prototypical cover corner, extremely fast and extremely shifty. For his lack of size, he brings a tremendous amount of toughness that only Texans are stereotypically known for. In practice, he lays out for every ball.
As a redshirt freshman earning heavy reps with the first team unit, it says a lot about Williams' talent and ability, given the fact that this Cal roster already has four players with starting cornerback experience.
On a unit that finished 111th in pass efficiency defense, Williams will surely be depended on to help shore up a unit that is surely talented, but is coming off of a disappointing year.
Head Coach Jeff Tedford does not have a problem with that.
“Steve has really stepped up,” Tedford said. “He had a great spring, and so far, he's taken over where he has left off.”
Tedford even went out to say that he feels “pretty good” about cornerback, given the experience of the returning players. But part of Tedford's optimism must also stem from Williams' impressive play from the spring, and through three practices of fall camp.
In 7-on-7's, Williams was assigned to cover Cal's top wide receiver Marvin Jones. On one play along the right sideline, Williams managed to make up the separation, leave his feet, and break up the intended pass with his right hand. Such a play was reminiscent of Cal's recent All-Pac-10 cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson.
Then, you remind yourself that Williams still has four years of eligibility remaining.
The ceiling is high. The potential is apparent. The opportunity is near.
But don't tell that to Williams.
“I just try to go out there and compete,” says Williams. “I don't really try to stand out and be an individual from the team.”
There is no worry or concern in his voice about the upcoming challenges this season, whether he's facing an All-American, Pac-10 receiver, or a high-scoring pistol offense.
Instead, his focus is on getting that pass efficiency ranking down, and the number of W's up.
“I just want to compete and be the best I can be.”
Practice News & Notes
It was the first of two open practices to the media, allowing us to see some team battles.
In regards to the injury news, Head Coach Jeff Tedford said that Sophomore OL Matt Summers-Gavin only suffered a bone bruise and no tear, giving a prognosis for his return to be about two weeks.
Aside from that bit of good news, the injuries kept piling up. The training staff was looking at Junior LB Mychal Kendricks late, but it did not appear to be serious. The training staff were also evaluating sophomore TE Spencer Ladner. Freshman OL Austin Clark was also seen with ice on his hamstring.
On top of that, Junior FB Will Kapp, Senior LB DJ Holt, and Junior RB Shane Vereen all continued to nurse their injuries and did not take part in team drills. Vereen did dress in shells, as everything is precautionary.
The team period was dominated by the defense, lead by senior DE Cameron Jordan. Jordan registered two sacks and recovered a fumble. The other defensive line standout was sophomore NT Kendrick Payne, who also registered a sack and had a few nice stops.
The best offensive play came on a hookup between freshman QB Allan Bridgford and freshman WR Kaelin Clay. Clay ran a slant route and simply exploded for a 67-yard touchdown, showcasing his track speed.
Senior CB Chris Conte registered an interception off a tipped pass, along with registering a couple of nice pass breakups.
Junior WR Marvin Jones had a nice touchdown catch in 1-on-1's. Junior WR Alex Lagemann also registered a touchdown catch.
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