COLUMBUS — Kourt Williams has done all of this before even getting to Ohio State.
Throughout his career at St. John Bosco High School in Southern California, Williams learned to play everywhere on one of the best football teams in the country. He played linebacker. He played safety. He was in a hybrid role, similar to Ohio State’s Bullet position.
So when he arrived as an early enrollee in January for the Buckeyes, his position was still undefined. After spring practice was wiped out, his position remains undefined. He’s just a defensive athlete who can do anything the Buckeyes need.
“I can cover and I can fit in the run,” Williams said. “I’m not afraid to get my nose dirty and hit and guarding those receivers, tight ends, I can do that. I wouldn’t say that I have one better than the other right now. Because it’s hard to compare.”
Although he played more safety than linebacker in high school, the role Williams described seems like a Pete Werner-type role from a season ago, when he played all over the field, stuffed the run and even rolled back into a safety slot at times. Could that be a future option for Williams?
He’s open to whatever can get him on the field.
“It just opens your resumé up, in terms of what you can do on the field,” Williams said. “Being so versatile just helps you in terms of things you can contribute on defense and get on the field as much as you can.”
The Buckeyes have no problem waiting patiently to see just where Williams fits into the defense. Their position-less recruiting approach on the defensive side of the ball has paid off in the past, and Williams gives another reason to believe it will work again. But the question remains: Will he be a linebacker or a safety at the next level?
A big-time comparison could indicate that he might remain position-less and just be a dominant defender.
“He can do a lot of things,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “So, we’re going to find different ways to get him on the field. He kind of has — he’s a little bit different style than [former Clemson hybrid defender Isaiah] Simmons. Simmons is a little bit longer. Kourt is maybe a little bit more compact and bigger, but the same idea, thought.
“You can use different things with them, and those are the kind of guys you want.”
Ohio State certainly wanted Williams throughout the recruiting process. And now that the Buckeyes have him, the challenge is figuring out where to slot him and how to get him on the field. He’s talented enough to play early in his career, and he’s already garnering talk of the possibility that he’s on track to be a captain for the Buckeyes.
He’s smart. He works hard. He leads. And he can do everything the Ohio State defense will want him to do.
It’s not hard for Williams to play both linebacker and safety.
“It’s definitely not hard at all,” he said. “Film study and all that, I really take pride in all that and I do it a whole lot. I always consider myself a smart football player. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s hard in terms of the mental aspect. It’s asking to do a lot, but that’s what you want at the end of the day.”
Kourt Williams wants to be versatile. Now it’s up to Ohio State to figure out if his skillset is better-suited at linebacker or safety.