BATON ROUGE, La. — You can’t be wishy-washy as a cornerback. To be the best, you have to believe you’re the best.
And luckily for LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, that level of confidence is built right into his name.
“There’s a swagger you’ve got when you’re playing DB,” Williams said. “You’ve got to have a lot of confidence out there. I’m just out there playing with a lot of confidence and being Greedy.”
If there’s one thing LSU fans have learned through two games of the 2017 season, it’s that — to paraphrase Gordon Gekko — Greedy, for lack of a better word, is good. With two games under his belt in his redshirt freshman campaign, Williams has 2 interceptions and 5 pass defensed, both of which lead the SEC outright. Dating back to 2008, no freshman has led the SEC in either category.
Adding to Williams’ mystique is the fact that he isn’t even supposed to be in this position. Throughout the spring and all of fall camp, junior Kevin Toliver II was listed in Williams’ starting spot. But when Toliver was sidelined Week 1 serving a suspension, Williams stepped in and earned the job by proving what he can do.
Now heading into Week 3, LSU coach Ed Orgeron doesn’t seem to care that Toliver is back and available to play. That cornerback spot belongs to Williams right now, and if Toliver wants it, he’ll have to win it back.
“There’s no sacred spots on our football team,” Orgeron said. “We’re going to play the best players regardless of seniority of anything. And we want the guys that are playing the best. And right now Greedy is doing that.”
If you’re looking for an illustration of how Williams is doing that, look no further than his interception versus Chattanooga.
LSU was playing a zone coverage with two deep safeties. The safety behind Williams, Ed Paris, came up and told Williams to play the flats, since Paris was planning on sitting over the top. Earlier in the game, Williams had told LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond that Chattanooga was repeatedly running “dinks and dumps” on him. In other words, Chattanooga was trying to beat Greedy with shallow out routes.
Chattanooga tried another out route. Greedy kept his inside leverage and broke on the throw as soon as the receiver made his cut. Turnover.
“These first two games, I knew he was going to do that,” fellow starting cornerback Donte Jackson said. “You can’t run the same route on Greedy that many times. That guy ran an out route like four times in a row. The fifth time, he made him pay.”
Now the elder statesman in the cornerback room, Jackson has taken it upon himself to be a mentor for Williams, freshman nickelback Kary Vincent Jr. and all of LSU’s young cornerbacks. Jackson said Williams’ success is a product of the freshman simply showing what he can do on the field. When you make people notice, it pays off.
For Williams, it’s a little more than that. His key to success is about avoiding complacency, about embracing the competition with Toliver, with Jackson and with himself to get better as a player and a person every day. It’s the same reason that in high school, Williams stayed after practice with a teammate every day for a whole summer catching balls off a JUGS machine because someone told him his brother had better hands.
The only difference is, now the SEC is starting to take notice. But don’t think that means the interceptions are going away. Teams are still going to throw at Williams.
“The thing is, they see ‘redshirt freshman.’ It’s on my name,” Williams said. “They’re going to try to test me and everything just because I’m a redshirt freshman. They’re still going to throw at me. There’s still more to come.”
And that’s all about being Greedy.