Kieron Williams didn’t wear a black practice jersey before facing the Fresno State offense, but considering the work he put in against the Bulldogs, he surely took a big step toward earning one. Not only did he fly all over the field with those who officially earned the title of a Blackshirt, but he did so without getting flagged.
“You just have to love the game. I love this game. I’ve been playing since I was four years old. So that’s the only way I know how to play this game. I think when you get unsportsmanlike conducts, it’s because you’re trying to be boastful about yourself. For me, I love the game, I don’t just love myself,” he said during the press conference following Nebraska’s 43-10 win over the Bulldogs.
While Williams works hard and stays humble, the crowd at Memorial Stadium most certainly loved seeing the Shreveport, La. native make life miserable for Fresno State as the Nebraska secondary certainly looked better than its 2015 counterpart.
Williams led the team in tackles with 10 (six solo), one tackle for loss and hauled in one of Nebraska’s two interceptions.
“It’s funny because my mom wasn’t here tonight, and in high school when I had my first interception, she wasn’t there either. So maybe she shouldn’t come to my games. It’s just a blessing to be able to play and make good plays.”
When Williams snagged one of Fresno State quarterback Chason Virgil’s passes, it did so much for Nebraska’s cause. Not only was momentum added in the Huskers’ favor, but they were able to build on it and run away with the game thanks to a 29-0 second half.
Williams kept his emotions in check when it came to expressing how it felt to step onto the field and prove that he belongs with the first-string defensive unit.
“I feel like God has blessed me so much to even be here to play, so I think Coach Banker put us in the right situation and the right spot to be able to make plays. I just feel like we came out thinking we could win, and that’s what matters.”
The big question now is whether or not his effort will be enough to qualify him to wear the coveted jersey. His play was consistently impressive against the Bulldogs and he handled praise with modesty.
Blackshirts are handed out for many different reasons. It’s not uncommon to wonder what the method is behind the madness.
With Williams not being the recipient of one in the past, it’s almost as if something was missing from this staff’s winning equation. Some crucial part of his mentality had to be off for him to not gain entry to the Blackshirt brotherhood.
Perhaps now, in the wake of an impressive victory and a game where he clearly left everything he had to offer out on the field, he has proven himself worthy.
Following the Big Red’s practice on Tuesday, Mark Banker had some comments about his safety’s work.
“What’s kind of interesting, Kieron was very boisterous today and continued to communicate well. To me, a noisy defense is a very good defense. If your defense will continue to talk and chatter before the play, during the play, you’ve got a chance.”
Maybe for Williams, his defensive coordinator is saying there’s a chance he’ll wear black sooner than later.