Photo courtesy of Old Dominion athletics
Steven Williams Jr. has done it all at Old Dominion. Now, he begins to do it all again — on the other side of the ball.
Coming out of Washington D.C., Williams was ranked as the 14th-best recruit in the nation’s capital, but that was at quarterback. Williams did end up at that spot for the first part of his ODU career, playing in 10 games as a freshman in 2017.
His first career start was on the road against 13th-ranked Virginia Tech. That season, Williams passed for 1,528 yards with six touchdowns but also threw 11 interceptions.
Williams would redshirt in 2018 after playing four games in his final action at quarterback for Bobby Wilder’s Monarchs.
As the 2019 season began, ODU had an influx of transfer quarterbacks and freshman Hayden Wolff. Williams made the transition to wide receiver during fall camp and performed admirably at that season. Williams played in all 12 games, catching 17 passes for 167 yards despite a revolving door behind center.
Now, as ODU goes through its first spring under new coach Ricky Rahne, Williams prepares for a new challenge. That new challenge will see him chasing quarterbacks at linebacker for Blake Seiler’s defense.
Williams has made an impression early on Seiler. Seiler mentioned him among players who have him excited.
“(We have) some young guys coming up like Ryan Henry, Steven Williams,” Seiler said. “I like up front; O’Shea Jackson have shown some good things. He has come a long way.”
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While the former quarterback is certainly a smart player, playing on defense is still new to him. Seiler says the determination is there for Williams. If that determination turns into production, ODU will be in a good place.
“He has been great; he is fired up about it,” Seiler said. “In the fall, he was really raw there but Stevie is on the other end of the spectrum as far as I have to teach him how he needs to line up and what his assignments are.”
Williams also has been putting his time at quarterback to good use getting adjusted to linebacker.
“He knows so much about offensive football,” Seiler exclaimed. “When the play snaps, he almost knows where to go based on what he sees in the backfield. We just have to get him tightened down with the details of playing linebacker as far as alignment, assignments, and how to fit. In general football knowledge, he is way ahead of the curve.
“I’ve converted a bunch of quarterbacks over my years from my time at Kansas State,” Seiler continued. “That was a big part of me talking to Stevie; he is a great athlete and there are so many backup quarterbacks around the country that could be playing on Sundays if they tried another position. I had a bunch of guys do that at Kansas State and I think Stevie is in that mold.”
Williams, along with Jordan Young, redshirt junior Ryan Henry, and freshman Malcolm Britt are the four linebackers to watch the closest moving forward for ODU. Also, expect ODU to recruit that spot heavily for the 2022 class to add depth.