Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at safety Shawn Williams.
No. 36 Shawn Williams
87 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss
Role in 2012: Williams provided a senior presence in a secondary that was without two key contributors when the season began, and he delivered throughout with physical play.
The good: Despite his on-field production in the past two seasons, Williams’ long-term legacy will probably be that he fired up his teammates with critical words about the defense’s soft play on the week of the Florida game. The Bulldogs needed a spark, and Williams was the guy who provided it. He also led the team in tackles as a junior and finished second as a senior, providing a physical and spirited presence in the secondary.
The bad: Williams’ comments might have been what the defense needed, but they also generated unnecessary friction with some of the players he criticized. However, the defense rallied and turned the situation into a positive. On the field, Williams helped stabilize the secondary while Bacarri Rambo and Sanders Commings were suspended, but there were moments where he could have done a better job wrapping up on tackle attempts -- like when Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon escaped his grasp on a third-and-5 conversion that set up the Crimson Tide’s game-winning touchdown.
Crystal ball: Williams looks to have an NFL future ahead of him after totaling 159 tackles through the last two seasons. In fact, ESPN Scouts Inc.’s Steve Muench wrote last week that “A team looking for immediate help in the back end would do well to land Williams in the second round.” He’s not a flashy performer, but he’s a steady, durable safety who has produced consistently in the SEC -- and that’s an obvious indicator of pro potential.