With Tulsa down seven and driving in Ohio State territory midway through the fourth quarter on Saturday afternoon, freshman defensive tackle Tyleik Williams made perhaps the defensive play of the game for the Buckeyes.
He burst his way between two offensive lineman and instantly found himself in the face of Golden Hurricane quarterback Davis Brin, who tried to avoid the pressure by running away from the line of scrimmage before he was brought down by Williams for a 17-yard sack.
That forced Tulsa to punt on 4th and 24 from its own 40-yard line and ended any hope of an upset bid, as Ohio State scored on its next possession and then returned an interception for a touchdown to reach the final score of 41-20.
“He’s been a work in progress,” Johnson said of Williams. “He came in really heavy, and lost weight. He lost over 25 pounds. Now he’s where we want him to be and he’s starting to show what we thought he would be. Very athletic, has quick movements, and he’s starting to turn into a good player.”
The 6-foot-1 and 317-pound Williams came to Columbus as a four-star prospect from Manassas (Va.) Unity Reed, where he was considered the 25th-best defensive lineman and No. 166 prospect overall in the class of 2021. There were some concerns about his weight, though, as he tipped the scale at more than 340 pounds when he enrolled in classes in January.
“In high school, he was between 270 and 280 pounds,” Johnson said. “He was a really great looking young man. I was really impressed by his ability to move to the football. Then the pandemic hit, and like most people, he sat around, ate and had fun, and he must have ate too much.
“When I saw him for the very first time when he showed up here on campus, I was like, ‘Wow. What happened?’ But then he’d start running and moving around, and everyone in the building would go, ‘Wow. This guy can move for a big man.’ He just has to get in shape and get into conditioning.
“That was the biggest challenge for him, getting in condition to be able to play at the speed that we need to play at. He’s there now, so now we should see some things going forward.”
Williams made his season debut with three snaps and one tackle in the loss to Oregon on Sept. 11 and had his black stripe removed in practice the following Tuesday, which was surest sign that he would get increased playing time against Tulsa. He then came away from the win over the Golden Hurricane as one of just two defensive players to grade out a champion, joining redshirt sophomore safety Ronnie Hickman.
“I think Tyleik is a guy who stands out right now as a guy who is probably going to see more time moving forward,” Johnson said. “He’s got a great spirit, he works hard and is starting to show exactly what he can do. I’m proud of where he’s at right now.”
Be sure to check out our new message boards, Buckeye Forums. We'd love to have you part of the conversation during the season.
You may also like:
Be sure to stay locked into BuckeyesNow all the time!