TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri made the highlight reels for his interception return, but it was safety Jarrick Williams who made the play.
Williams, a redshirt junior, blanketed his man and deflected Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's pass which popped right into Sunseri's arms. Sunseri took it 73-yards the other way for one of the Crimson Tide's touchdowns in its win over the Aggies.
"All credit goes to Jarrick Williams who made a great play," Sunseri said. "I was just there to catch the ball and run it in for him. He had the great coverage, he batted the ball into the air, I was just the recipient of the ball. All credit goes to him. He had a great game."
Williams continued to hold his own in coverage for the second straight game. He's settling into the "star" role, Alabama's fifth defensive back in nickel packages. He inherited the job from sophomore Geno Smith, who was suspended for the team's season opener after a preseason arrest for driving under the influence.
Tide coach Nick Saban said Williams has "played really well."
Williams took a medical redshirt in 2012 after tearing his ACL in fall camp. Before his injury, Williams played the "money" position, Alabama's sixth defensive back in dime packages.
Coming out of Blount High, Williams was one of the top defensive back prospects in the nation. He was a four-star prospect and a U.S. Army All-American. The Mobile, Ala. native was ranked as the No. 5 safety nationally and the No. 3 player in the state of Alabama by Rivals.com.
Williams showed promise as a young player. He played in 11 games during his first two seasons with the Tide as a reserve safety.
With former Tide star Mark Barron leaving for the NFL, Williams was expected to see more snaps and possibly compete for a starting job before the injury.
He remembers struggling to remain positive about rehab and playing again, and at times, he said he felt lhe wouldn't be able to make a return.
"The whole thing was like that," Williams said. "I just had to fight through it, keep a straight head and stay focused.
"There were some days I just wanted to give up, felt like I'd never be the same Jarrick again. Some days I was like, I just got to fight through it and see what happens and don't worry about the knee. So when I got back on the field, I didn't think about the knee."
Williams said he spoke with family members and his mother who "kept me focused and level-headed and (told me) just don't freak out about it."
It took a while, but around the A-Day game this spring, Williams said he began to feel 100 percent again. He's also more comfortable with the defensive schemes.
"I think I'm getting better and better at the 'star' position," he said. "Every game, I come out every day ready to practice and ready to learn more."
At 6-foot-1, 210-pounds, Williams' size gives him the ability to play physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage.
"I try to re-route the guy, so I get my hands under them," Williams said. "That makes me a much better coverage player."
Sunseri said Williams has been unbelievable and is a great asset to the secondary.
"Jarrick has done exactly what we've asked him to do," Sunseri said. "He's had great coverage, been really physical at the point of attack and just been a real sound defensive player at that star position. I can't express how happy I am for him to get the opportunity and take advantage of it like he's been able to."