|Johnson C. Smith defensive end Sa'Von Williams grinds to shine|
|Sophomore aims to build on 2017 success|
|Published Wednesday, August 22, 2018 6:45 pm|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|Johnson C. Smith sophomore defensive end Sa’Von Williams earned a spot on the CIAA’s All-Rookie team last year.|
Sa’Von Williams is driven by aspiration.
Better edge rushing. Run-stopping. Study habits. Leadership.
The Johnson C. Smith defensive end is pushing to exceed his 2017 freshman season, which included a CIAA All-Rookie team designation. Williams, who racked up 33 tackles and four sacks, wants more, especially for the Golden Bulls, who went 2-8 last year.
“Everything just drives me,” he said. “Like with the seniors leaving, they pretty much told me last year that it’s mine now and I’ve got to step up and be the leader, to push everybody to work harder, so that’s my main thing.”
That’s why Williams, who is 6-4, 240 pounds, is leading by example. Instead of returning home to Darlington, South Carolina for summer break, he remained in Charlotte to work out and study video. It didn’t go unnoticed.
“He’s just one of those kids who wants to be the best he can be,” Golden Bulls coach Kermit Blount said. “He worked tremendously hard this summer. He was here this summer and just about every afternoon or evening I saw him working out and trying to get it in, so he’s gotten bigger, stronger and faster.”
Teammate Marcel Toran, who led JCSU in tackles and sacks last season with 66 and five, respectively, believes Williams’ drive will translate into a breakout season.
“Sa’Von has improved a lot – his weight room effort, his field work,” Toran said. “He wants it. I think he’s going to have a big season this year. I’m talking All-CIAA big season.”
Williams, who chose JCSU over South Carolina State and Wingate because “they treated me like I was one of their sons,” has the physical tools to be a top-level defender, Blount says. He also has intangibles that can’t be coached.
“He has strength and speed,” Blount said. “He’s probably just as fast as some of our linebackers, but he’s just an extraordinary athlete. We were very fortunate to get him last year and he has three more years. He has to show the world that he has improved from last year to this year, and I’m glad to hear him talk about pushing his teammates and pushing himself. I think that’s how he motivates himself to play better.”
A relentless trash-talker, Williams embraces the give-and-take of competition, especially with Toran, who constantly reminds everyone who led the Golden Bulls in sacks last year.
“I want 15 sacks – 15 to 20 sacks this year,” Williams said. “That’s my goal. “That’s just always been the goal.”
To get there, Williams and the Golden Bulls need to be stout against the run after allowing an average of 191.5 rushing yards last season. Williams understands he needs to be a more complete edge defender to dictate terms to opponents.
“The first thing any team is going to do is run the ball, and if we stop the run, they’re going to go to the pass, “ he said. “So that’s the main thing we’ve got to do – stop the run first, then the pass.”
Blount believes Williams will do his part, starting with the Aug. 30 opener at Wingate.
“He loves to talk, but we feel he’s going to be an ultimate player before he leaves,” Blount said. “He has three more years to play here and we think he might be one of those guys that has an opportunity to do some things beyond this. If we keep him level, his head level, I think he’ll be OK.”
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