Today I looked looked at the calendar on my phone. Realizing it was already August 1st, I felt a little confused about where the hell most of my summer went! On top of that, I especially felt nervous, yet also excited for the start of the fall semester at Purdue. But, when I noticed that there is now only one month between here and the start of the football season, all other emotions gave way to giddy ecstasy.
With a manageable number of days to go until September 1st, many of my Kickoff Countdown posts should now be done with much more passion and enthusiasm as they reflect my general mood. Come to think of it, my post today covers a guy that I am very excited about contributing to our success this year and hopefully in the next few. With 31 days left in the Countdown, H&R takes a look at redshirt freshman linebacker Armstead Williams.
Armstead Williams - Fr. (RS)
Hometown: Monroeville, PA (Gateway HS)
6'3", 210 pounds pounds
2012 Projection: Reserve/Backup at Outside Linebacker, contributor on Special Teams
You might not yet realize it, but Armstead Williams is a guy who could be a surprise contributor for our defense this year and something much more in the future. Though the redshirted freshman will not a starter at Outside Linebacker this season, he has a lot of skill at the linebacker position and he oozes potential.
A member of the Class of 2011, Williams was rated as a three star prospect by both Scout and Rivals coming out of high school. En route to such honors, he recorded 64 total tackles, including 31 solos, one sack, one interception six pass deflections and a forced fumble in his senior years at Gateway High School in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh. The guy seems to do it all. Hopefully numbers like that speak volumes about his athleticism.
But it doesn't stop there. In addition to playing linebacker in high school, Armstead also showed great amounts of athleticism on the other of the ball as he played plenty of snaps and amassed some impressive stats at Tight End. His receiving totals in his senior season came to 29 catches for 257 yards and 5 touchdowns.
When his senior campaign was over, Williams was named a First Team Pennsylvania Class 4A All-State selection at linebacker, and he was also listed by many recruiters as one of the top 20 linebacker prospects in the nation for the Class of '11. By way of such accomplishments, Armstead racked up a seemingly endless amount of offers from some big-name college football programs. Aside from Purdue, he was pursued by the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, NC State, Maryland and others. Fortunately for members of Boiler Nation, Williams chose Purdue over all of those other Big Ten schools/Communists.
After redshirting last season, Williams is set to prove this year that he is as good as his credentials claim. Though he will more than likely be a backup as a freshman to either incumbent starter Will Lucas or Nnamdi Ezenwa, the likely front runner for the other OLB spot, #31 already possesses many skills necessary to succeed at Outside Linebacker. Among other things, Armstead is fast, agile and athletic. He plays with great instincts and is a solid tackler. And though he is small for his position at 210 pounds, his broad skill set can surely make up for that.
Hopefully Armstead will spend his first season of college ball doing a few key things. One of them is putting on some mass in the weight room. If he can bulk up to about 230 by next fall, he will likely obtain the necessary strength and size to excel at his position and against B1G opponents. Another thing he should work on is learning things like the defensive scheme and positional assignments, so that come next season (when he might be a starter), he will have a much higher football IQ and his specific knowledge of his position and the Purdue D become second nature. And lastly, Williams should hope to get a good amount of reps and gain in-game experience in his first year.
If he can do these things and also have fun in 2012, Purdue might just have another stud Linebacker on its hands. But until then, look for Armstead Williams to be a student of the game behind our starters and another cog in the linebacker rotation this year.