Syracuse safety Rodney Williams was not one of the more heralded members of the 2014 recruiting class. But head coach Scott Shafer raved about what he could bring to the Orange at his national signing day press conference. Those praises have continued as the true freshman competes in his first collegiate training camp.
”It’s going pretty well,” Williams said. “It’s a tough transition with the speed and the deep playbook and all the checks and stuff like that. But, I mean, everything is going pretty well. I’m getting a lot of help from my teammates as well as the coaching staff.
"So that transition made it a little bit easier. I think I’m starting to acclimate well to the process.”
The biggest adjustment for most freshman transitioning from the high school level is dealing with the increased speed in college. The transition for Williams has been no different.
”Well the speed of the game,” Williams said. “You want to play fast but first you have to be under control. The technique has been the number one thing. After that, it’s firing to the ball. How to jam receivers, how to use catch techniques. More of a technique standpoint rather than just playing football.”
”Once you learn the playbook and get the checks, you feel more comfortable. Everyone out here knows how to play football. Once you understand what you have to do and what your job is, you can loosen up and play with a little bit of swag. Then go out there and make plays.”
Learning the playbook is no easy task. That is usually the biggest factor in keeping freshmen off the field. Williams, however, appears to have picked things up faster than most. He attributes help from his teammates and coaching staff as a key to minimizing his learning curve.
”When I came in over the summer, I had Darius Kelly,” Williams said. “He helped me out with the playbook. I picked it up pretty quickly, but it’s different when you get out on the field and everything’s going so fast. Once I got out there, it took me about a day or two to get acclimated.
”Once I got that down, I had to learn my technique and my checks and how to read the quarterback. How to read the receiver and everything like that. I got that after the first couple of days and I’ve been able to make plays ever since.”
Williams role within the defense is still yet to be officially determined. Once considered a near lock to redshirt, he is now poised to contribute in some way.
”That’s still up to the coaching staff,” Williams said. “But I believe I will play in the nickel, the Okie in third and long. If Durell (Eskridge) or Ritchy (Desir) get tired I might get in the rotation at safety.”
Regardless of what his role may be, Williams will approach every opportunity he has on the field with the same effort and determination that has caught the attention of the coaching staff during his first training camp.
”When I step on the field with the twos or scout team, it doesn’t matter,” Williams said. “You, regardless of who you’re going against, we’re in the ACC so we have big time competition week in and week out.
”When I’m going against a two or a scout team guy, I’m thinking I’m going against Rashad Greene from Florida State. I’m just trying to get better. Every rep, every day. That will make me better as well as the team day in and day out.”