The 50 most important college players in Texas in 2017 — No. 3: Texas’ Connor Williams
AS THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON EDGES CLOSER, WE TAKE A LOOK AT THE MOST PIVOTAL PLAYERS FOR EACH PROGRAM'S RESPECTIVE SUCCESS.
The importance of a player is not always defined by their skill level. The most important player on a team or in a unit is not always the best player on a team. This list is designed to breakdown the 50 most important players in Texas college football for the 2017 season. It is not a ranking of the 50 best college football players in the state. Importance can be defined by position, need, skill or leadership. We’ll count down the list through the summer, all the way to No. 1.
50 – Lamar DE Daniel Crosley / 49 – TCU WR KaVontae Turpin / 48 – UTEP QB Ryan Metz
47 – UMHB RB Markeith Miller / 46 – Sam Houston State DE PJ Hall / 45 – Baylor WR Blake Lynch
44 – Texas Tech WR Jonathan Giles (transferred) / 43 – Texas Tech RB Justin Stockton
42 – PVAMU WR Joshua Simmons / 41 – Rice RB Samuel Stewart / 40 – UNT WR Jalen Guyton
39 – Texas RB Chris Warren / 38 – Rice OL Trey Martin / 37 – Texas A&M Commerce QB Luis Perez
36 – Baylor DL K.J. Smith / 35 – Texas State LB Gabe Loyd / 34 – Texas State WR Thurman Morbley
33 – Houston DB Khalil Williams / 32 – Texas Tech LB Jordyn Brooks / 31 – SFA DL John Franklin
30 – SMU DE Justin Lawler / 29 – Texas State QB Damian Williams / 28 – ACU QB Dallas Sealey
27 – UTSA QB Dalton Sturm / 26 – Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams / 25 – UTSA WR Josh Stewart
24 – TCU LB Travin Howard / 23 – Texas Tech OL Travis Bruffy / 22 – Rice LB Emmanuel Ellerbee
21 – UNT DT Bryce English / 20 – TCU LB Ty Summers / 19 – UTEP LB Alvin Jones
18 – The Baylor QB / 17 – UTSA LB Josiah Tauaefa / 16 – Texas A&M OL Koda Martin
15 – Texas Tech QB Nic Shimonek / 14 – Texas LB Malik Jefferson / 13 – TexasA&M WR Christian Kirk
12 – Houston QB Kyle Allen / 11 – SMU WR Courtland Sutton / 10 – SHSU QB Jeremiah Briscoe
9 – Texas QB Shane Buechele / 8 – UTEP OL Will Hernandez / 7 – Baylor RB Terence Williams
6 – UNT QB Mason Fine / 5 – The Texas A&M QB / 4 – SMU QB Ben Hicks
After arriving on campus in Austin as a three-star recruit, Williams quickly emerged as a full-time starter. He started all 12 games at left tackle as a freshman and was named a first-team freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America, USA Today and ESPN. But Williams built off the momentum of his collegiate debut by growing into one of the top offensive linemen in the country for the Longhorns as a sophomore last season. He helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for D’Onta Foreman’s 2,028-yard season on the ground, and Williams became just the fourth sophomore in school history to be named a first-team All-American.
Before breaking onto the scene as a star for the Longhorns, Williams was a 6A All-State selection at Coppell High School as a senior in 2014. He was an all-district selection on both sides of the ball, earning the distinction as a top-100 player in the state.
Williams has played a key role in the Longhorns’ ability to run the football successfully over the last two seasons, but his role as the blind-side protector of freshman Shane Buechele went a long way toward easing the true freshman into his starting role. Williams is aggressive and dominant as a run blocker, and also possesses a lot of athleticism and exceptional footwork. He has added size and strength to his frame, getting up to 6-6, 320 lbs. leading up to his junior year, further cementing himself as one of the top linemen in the country.
Without Foreman, the Longhorns will be looking for a new offensive identity. Replacing a 2,000-yard rusher is no small task, and Williams will play a key role in establishing the run up front early on in the season. When it comes to quarterback play, the Longhorns will be looking for Buechele to take a step forward as a sophomore this year. With Williams continuing to grow as a consistent force at left tackle, Buechele has one less thing to worry about during his development. The offensive line will be one of the most important keys to success for the Longhorns in Tom Herman’s inaugural campaign, and Williams is without a doubt the leader in the trenches.
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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.