- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Maybe he was inspired by UCLA’s Myles Jack. Or maybe he got frustrated watching from the sidelines while knowing he could help.
Either way, Texas Tech’s Kenny Williams wants to be the Big 12’s answer to the Pac-12’s Jack, who was named Pac-12 offensive and defensive freshman of the year after starring at running back and linebacker for the Bruins last season. According to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, the Red Raiders senior has spent the majority of the spring taking first-team reps as a linebacker after leading the squad in rushing with 497 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.
“He’s looking great, I love that kid,” Texas Tech defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “Everybody here knows about him. He’s accountable. He’s reliable. He loves football.”
Williams had 14 tackles as a special teams standout last season, showing a hunger to make plays and a willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team.
“He wants to come over and help,” Wallerstedt said. “He’s learning and doing and great job, and he comes over with credibility.”
Williams wanted to make the move and the coaching staff was receptive as it searches for a replacement for Terrance Bullitt at outside linebacker. He immediately brought a veteran voice and senior leadership to the linebackers.
It could be an ideal fit. It would be difficult for Williams to start on offense and defense and then play both ways for the duration of any game, particularly since Tech led the Big 12 and FBS with 87.4 plays per game. Yet, having a veteran playmaker and leader as a viable option at running back and linebacker would do nothing but help the Red Raiders’ chances for success in 2014.
Ultimately though, Williams’ destiny could be decided by his teammates more than himself.
Fellow running back DeAndre Washington was right on the heels of Williams with 450 rushing yards in 2013 and could be in line to share carries with him this fall. Meanwhile, Williams’ ability to slide into the mix at linebacker means it will be important for other players to emerge at that position in Wallerstedt’s defense.
Even as Williams works at linebacker, spring is unlikely to decide where the Pflugerville, Texas, native could end up helping the Red Raiders the most during the 2014 season. The lone certainty is the Williams’ experimentation at the linebacker position gives the Red Raiders options and additional competition for playing time.
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