The 50 most important college players in Texas in 2017 — No. 33: Houston’s Khalil 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.

Previously:
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

The History

Khalil Williams’ career began sooner than most people – including Williams – expected back in 2014. After initially redshirting as a true freshman, Williams was forced into action when the injury bug bit the Houston secondary. He had to step in and lost his redshirt in the process, finishing with nine tackles while appearing in seven games down the stretch of the season.

Williams went on to start four games in 2015 before finally breaking through as a full-time starter last season. His development paid off, as Williams finished fifth on the team with 60 tackles – including five for loss.

Coming out of Hightower High School, the decision to attend Houston was an easy one because of the proximity to home. Williams also had offers from Hawaii, SMU and Texas State as a well-regarded, three-star recruit. He had four interceptions as a senior and also scored five touchdowns while seeing time at running back.

The Skillset

Williams’ physicality is what helped him standout as a junior last season. He’s a big-hitter in the secondary and makes a living flying around the field. Todd Orlando’s defensive scheme fit perfectly for Williams, as he was able to play close to the line of scrimmage and make an impact in the run game. Of course, the loss of Orlando as DC could shift the way he is used in the game plan. But the versatility of a safety that likes to initiate contact all over the field is beneficial to any defensive scheme.

The Impact

Houston has produced a few NFL products out of its secondary over the last few years and the Cougars lost both Brandon Wilson and Howard Wilson to the league this past offseason. Those will be tough holes to fill, putting a lot of pressure on a guy like Williams to have a big season as a returning starter and senior on the defense. In his second year as a full-time starter, Wilson will be looked to help continue the defensive success the Cougars enjoyed last season.

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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.

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