Florida State's Williams brings controlled chaos to the field

Orlando SentinelJanuary 1, 2014 

Karlos Williams does not run with much flash or style.

His 6-foot-1, 223-pound frame flails around as he legs wildly pump and churn.

But the chaos is usually controlled. The Florida State running back moves without much of a purpose other than inflicting as much damage as possible.

It is poetic violence.

"For Karlos, it's funny because he gets his yards the hard way," FSU fullback Chad Abram said. "When he first came in, he made no reads. He wasn't indecisive. He just made a decision quick. And it just worked out for him. He's so fast, he just got through holes really fast and got yards."

Williams, a junior, moved from safety to running back after the Seminoles' season opener against Pittsburgh. FSU had a bevy of depth in the defensive backfield but needed extra runners to spell Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr.

The move has paid off.

Although still learning the nuances of FSU's offense, Williams has amassed 705 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 86 attempts. That means he's averaging a score every less than every eight times he carries the football.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher had suggested that Williams move to offense a year earlier,

but pride got in the way.

"I was young. I came as a high-recruited safety. I always wanted to play safety," Williams said. "Played it in high school. Played it in little league.

"Always wanted to play that position. So I was still stuck in that immature mindset of I want to do this."

Eventually, Williams saw that his team needed him at running back.

Playing safety has helped Williams' transition, with physicality and natural talent carrying him as he becomes better acquainted with the new position.

"I say it all the time, I know how it feels to hit people hard. I know how it feels to lay a guy out," Williams said. "I don't want to be that guy to get laid out. So I definitely run a lot more physical than a lot of guys do."

Teammates tease Williams because he doesn't try to avoid contact. Rather, he creates it.

"People laugh at me because I'm very, very athletic, but I don't have a lot of moves," Williams said. "I'm a straight-line speed guy. So if I kind of stop, it's kind of hard to start up again."

Duke defensive back DeVon Edwards knows that first hand. He was blasted backward and up into the air by Williams on a 12-yard touchdown run in the ACC championship game.

The ferocious finish to the run prompted broadcaster Brent Musburger to exclaim, "Can't stop the freight train," in regards to Williams.

That sums up Williams' mindset: He's the train and defenders are the tracks.

Williams -- who, like his running style, is somewhat frenzied and hyper -- has embraced his new role on and off the field. He recently had a son he named Karlos Williams Jr.

His punishing brand of running combined with his explosive speed will make him a valuable weapon against Auburn in the BCS championship game on Jan. 6. Kickoff for the title tilt is 8:30 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN.

The Tigers surrender an average of 4.59 yards per carry and have allowed 76 runs of 10 yards or more, more than 98 other teams. Williams himself has 25 runs for first downs, a clear indicator of his power and effectiveness.

"He's a vocal guy, he's up there talking with me talking, (linebacker) Telvin (Smith), he's one of those guys that always has something to say," Wilder said. "He's a natural leader and he's a natural running back.

"He brings something to our backfield.

"He's obviously playing more, he's had success, so his maturity level, he had a son, his maturity level has grown since freshman year when he played safety."

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