2017 NFL Draft

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Trae Williams, CB

Height: 5-09 | Weight: 193 | College: South Florida
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Overshadowed by teammate Mike Jenkins, Trae Williams has quietly gone about his business, but if you ask opposing offensive coordinators, they will tell you that it was Williams who they worried about the most. Part of what many experts called the best cornerback tandem in college, Williams and Jenkins were largely responsible for USF's defensive success for the last three years.

With bookend cornerbacks, South Florida ranked 16th in the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2005 (109.38 rating), improving to 11th in the country in 2006 (104.26) and eighth in the NCAA ranks in 2007 (105.27). The two defensive backs would start a combined total of 85 games during their time with the Bulls.

Williams proved to be one of the premier coverage defenders in the history of the university and Big East Conference. He ranks second in South Florida annals with 16 interceptions and holds the school all-time record with 219 yards and four touchdowns returns. The school did not join the Big East until 2005, but in three seasons, his 15 interceptions (one in 2004 while USF was in Conference USA) rank third in league history.

At Durant High School, Williams earned Class 5A All-State second-team honors. He added first-team All-County accolades from the Tampa Tribune, also picking up first-team all-Suncoast and All-County recognition from the St. Petersburg Times.

Known more for his offensive skills, Williams scored a school-record 22 touchdowns in 2002, including six on punt returns. He rushed for 1,355 yards with 10-plus yards per carry. Against traditional Polk County and state power Lakeland High, he carried 12 times for 178 yards and all four of his team's touchdowns in a Durant win. As a junior, he rushed for 550 yards and six touchdowns and also recorded 55 tackles as a defensive back. He played in the Hillsborough County All-Star Game, earning Most Valuable Player honors.

Williams turned down scholarship offers from Central Florida and Iowa State to enroll at South Florida in 2003. He was the recipient of the Golden Bull Award, given to the Bulls' top Scout Team player on offense, performing as a halfback for that unit.

Shifting to defense for 2004, Williams took over for an injured Mike Jenkins at left cornerback, starting eight contests, including the final seven games. He totaled 22 tackles (14 solo) with five pass deflections and returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown. He also averaged 21.9 yards on nine kickoff returns.

The coaching staff shifted Jenkins to right cornerback in order to put the two talented defensive backs on the field together in 2005. Williams started every game at left cornerback, except vs. West Virginia. He collected 39 tackles (23 solo) with three pass breakups and two interceptions. He also returned three kickoffs for 63 yards (21.0-yard average).

Williams was named the team's Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, adding All-Big East Conference first-team honors. He registered 49 tackles (32 solo) and tied the school season-record with seven interceptions, tying for fifth on the Big East Conference record chart. He also batted away nine passes, blocked a punt and averaged 13.3 yards on three kickoff returns.

Despite having a better season in 2007, Williams was selected to the All-Big East second-team. He had a career-high 55 tackles (47 solo), his first career sack and two stops for losses. He broke up 11 passes and intercepted six others, setting a school record and tying the Big East season mark by returning three of those thefts for touchdowns.

In 49 games at south Florida, Williams started 45 contests. He recorded 165 tackles (116 solo) with a one-yard sack and 2.5 stops for losses of five yards. He gained 219 yards with four touchdowns on 16 interception returns, adding a 13-yard return of a blocked punt and 300 yards on 16 kickoff returns (18.8-yard average). He deflected 28 passes and his total of 44 defended passes rank second in school annals.


Positives: Has a lean frame with room to carry at least another 10 pounds of bulk without the added weight impacting his quickness … Intense competitor who might lose physical battles, but it is not because of a lack of effort … Won't impact a ballcarrier with his drag-down tackle style, but he does a good job of staying in front of the runner, grabbing and holding on until help arrives … Intelligent athlete with very good hand-eye coordination, vision and ability to recognize the patterns as they develop … Is very smooth in his backpedal, staying low in his pads with excellent transition quickness … Uses that speed to get a jump on the route to break up plays … Has the body control, balance and adjustment skills to get to off-target throws … Has a solid work ethic and while not vocal, he has been a good leader-by-example type … Needs to use his hands better in attempts to jam, but when he doesn't fight the ball, he can look it in for a clean interception … Has the quick feet to compensate for a marginal hand punch (in attempts to reroute), as he allows little cushion and has the recovery speed to get back into the play on the rare occasions he bites on pump fakes … Maintains good position on the receiver throughout the route, along with the hip flexibility and knowledge of taking good angles to close in a hurry … Has loose hips and is a smooth open-field runner, doing a nice job of flipping and accelerating without having to gather coming out of his breaks … Seldom separates for long when he is locked on his coverage assignment … Keeps the action in front of him playing in the zone and has a good feel for handling the switch-off … Makes plays in deep coverage and shows solid ball skills, which could be even better if he improves his timing competing for the jump ball … Has the hips and body control to get good depth in his pass drops and flashes tremendous acceleration running down the sideline (must learn not to bite on double moves) … Will come up and support vs. the run, but is not strong enough to take on the bigger offensive linemen … Has not done it often, but he has very good burst through the wedge on kickoff returns … Not the type that eyeballs the backfield too long (won't bite on play-action) … Shows good knee bend and lateral movement working his way down the line and has the loose hips to open up and generate a quick short-area burst to close.

Negatives: Has just adequate strength and lacks ideal size, as he struggles to handle bigger and stronger receivers … Needs to generate a stronger hand placement, as lacks pop in attempts to jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage … Does not hit with authority and is more of a drag-down type than a wrap-up tackler … Shows willingness vs. the run, but lacks the sand in his pants to prevent blockers from washing him out of the play … Has good leaping ability, but needs to time jumps better, as he will stop his feet, getting up before the ball reaches its high point … Despite his 16 interceptions, he lacks natural hands and has converted a few more interceptions into deflections by not fielding the ball cleanly … Spends too much time trying to slip past blockers in run support and becomes a non-factor on the play (must stack and control better with his hands) … Not the type that can clog the rush lane when asked to come up and support … Has very good timed speed, but must show a more explosive second gear to help him recover … Can be fooled by double moves … A former tailback but doesn't always use his vision to locate a clear path on interception returns … Good at making plays in front of him, but struggles to keep his head on a swivel, which causes him to lose sight of the ball trying to make the over-the-shoulder grab.

Compares To: JACQUES REEVES-Dallas … In the NFL, the left cornerback needs to be a shutdown type, as he will generally face the opposition's best receiver. He also needs to be a physical tackler, especially in run force, something that Williams has yet to display. He is strong in man coverage and can run stride for stride with receivers on long routes. Like Reeves, he might bring better value as a key performer in sub packages. Even with his 16 interceptions, his hands are only adequate. What he does well is anticipate the receiver's progression through the route. He gets a good break on the ball, but is more of a drag-down tackler, like Cowboys' cornerbacks Reeves and Terence Newman.

Career Notes

Williams had 16 interceptions (15 in Big East competition), ranking second in school history behind J.R. Reed's 18 picks (2000-03) … Since USF joined the Big East, Williams registered 15 interceptions, ranking third in league history behind Edward Reed of Miami (21, 1998-2001) and Aaron Beasley of West Virginia (18, 1992-95) … His seven interceptions in 2006 tied the school record first set by J.R. Reed in 2003 and Williams' six pass thefts in 2007 tied Reed's 2002 total for third on the Bulls' annual record chart … Only Sean Taylor of Miami (10 in 2003), Aaron Beasley of West Virginia (10 in 1994) and Edward Reed of Miami (9 in 2000 and 9 in 2001) had more pass thefts in a season in Big East history than Williams 2006 total of seven … Amassed 164 yards on his six interception returns in 2007, shattering the school record of 88 yards by Anthony Henry in 2000 … His 164 yards tied him with Dexter Seigler of Miami (1992) for seventh on the Big East record book … His interception-return yardage of 219 yards topped the previous school record of 148 yards by J.R. Reed (2000-03) … In Big East competition, he totaled 182 yards in returns (had a 37-yarder in 2004) … Set a school record by returning three interceptions for touchdowns in 2007, joining Malcolm Postell of Pittsburgh (2004) and Sean Taylor of Miami (2003) as the only players to ever accomplish that feat … His four total interception returns for touchdowns set a school record … His 73-yard interception return vs. Cincinnati in 2007 is the second-longest return in school history behind Bernard Brown's 86-yarder for a score vs. Liberty in 2001 … His 64-yard interception return vs. Louisville in 2007 is tied with Kenny Robinson (vs. Austin Peay, 2000) for the fourth-longest interception return in USF annals … Defended 44 passes in his career, the second-best all-time total in South Florida history, topped by J.R. Reed (45, 2000-03) … His 17 defended passes in 2006 rank second on the school's season-record list behind Bernard Brown's 19 in 1999.

2007 Season

All-Big East Conference second-team selection … Started all 13 games at left cornerback, helping the team rank eighth in the nation in pass-efficiency defense (105.27 rating) … Ranked seventh on the team with a career-high 55 tackles (47 solo), including a one-yard sack and two stops for losses of four yards … Deflected 11 passes and intercepted six others for 164 yards in returns (27.3-yard average), as Williams and Alphonso Smith of Wake Forest were the only players in college football to return three pass thefts for touchdowns in 2007 … Of the 66 passes targeted into his area, 30 were caught (45.45%) for 519 yards (17.3-yard average), as he prevented the opponent from getting to 19 other throws and defended 17 passes, as the opposition registered 7.86 yards per pass attempt … His six interceptions tied him for 18th in the nation.

2007 Game Analysis

Elon College … Recorded six tackles (five solo) with a stop for a three-yard loss and a pass break-up … Took down T.J. Clegg behind the line of scrimmage at the USF 12 on a mid second quarter rushing attempt … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#1-Michael Mayers (5:08-172)-Three catches for 59 yards, as Williams also prevented the receiver from getting to two other throws.

Auburn … Added seven tackles (4 solos), as he batted away a third-&-4 pass from Robert Dunn at the USF 31 late in the third quarter and then jammed the receiver on a third-&-8 toss in overtime, forcing the Tigers to settle for a 39-yard field goal … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#3-Robert Dunn (6:00-177)-One catches for 7 yards, as Williams also prevented the receiver from getting to two other throws.

North Carolina … Posted two tackles, as he picked off one pass and deflected three others … Pulled down a T.J. Yates third-&-15 pass at the USF 21 late in the first quarter …

Jammed Hakeem Nicks on a third-&-5 toss at the start of the second quarter and batted away a fourth-&-goal throw to Nicks at the start of the fourth quarter … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#87-Brandon Tate (6:01-195)-One catch for 6 yards.

West Virginia … Credited with five tackles (4 solos) … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#9-Jock Sanders (5:08-182)-One catch for 5 yards, as Williams also prevented the receiver from getting to one other throw.

Florida Atlantic … Made six tackles (3 solos), intercepted a pass and broke up another throw … Rerouted receiver Conshario Johnson on three third-down incomplete passes …

Picked off a Rusty Smith pass at the USF 41 early in the fourth quarter … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#84-Conshario Johnson (6:01-186)-One catch for 5 yards, as Williams also prevented the receiver from getting to three other throws.

Central Florida … Collected five tackles and broke up one pass … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#81-Kamar Allen (6:02-205)-No catches, as Williams also prevented the receiver from getting to one other throw.

Rutgers … Delivered two tackles and a pass deflection, but miscommunication in the secondary saw receiver Tiquan Underwood come up with a pair of touchdown catches of 3 & 69 yards … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#7-Tiquan Underwood (5:08-172)-Two catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns, as Williams also prevented the receiver from getting to two other throws.

Connecticut … Added seven tackles (4 solos), as he intercepted a Tyler Lorenzen pass and returned it 6 yards to midfield late in the first quarter … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#14-D.J. Hernandez (6:01-202)-Two catches for 39 yards.

Cincinnati … Did not make any tackles, but intercepted a Ben Mauk third-&-4 pass on the game's opening drive, returning the ball 73 yards for a touchdown, making up for seeing Dominick Goodman catch a 16-yard touchdown pass from Mauk late in the opening frame … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#16-Dominick Goodman (6:01-210)-One catch for a 16-yard touchdown, as Williams also prevented the receiver from getting to four other throws (including two on third-down plays).

Louisville … Had just one solo tackle, but picked off a Brian Brohm pass for a 64-yard touchdown return with 2:21 left in the first half … Also jammed receiver Trent Guy on a fourth-&-6 incomplete pass that ended a 43-yard, 9-play third quarter drive … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#3-Trent Guy (5:09-171)-No catches, as Williams also prevented the receiver from getting to one other throw.

Pittsburgh … Tied the Big East Conference season record with his third interception return for a touchdown, returning a Pat Bostick mid fourth quarter pass 21 yards into the end zone after sacking Bostick for a 1-yard loss on the previous series, finishing the day with six tackles (5 solos) … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#9-T.J. Porter (6:01-188)-One catch for 18 yards, as Williams also prevented the receiver from getting to one other throw.

2006 Season

All-Big East Conference first-team selection … Williams tied the school record and ranked tied for eighth in the nation while leading the league with seven interceptions for eight yards in returns … Starting all 13 games at left cornerback, he also had 49 tackles (32 solos) with nine pass deflections … Gained 40 yards on three kickoff returns (13.3-yard average) and 13 yards on a blocked punt return … Helped the Bulls rank 11th in the nation and second in the Big East with a 104.26 pass efficiency defense rating … Named Big East Player of the Week for his performance vs. Pittsburgh.

2006 Game Analysis

Had a two-yard interception return, scooped up a blocked punt for 13 yards, broke up two passes and had a pair of solo tackles vs. McNeese State in the season opener … Added an interception and five tackles (four solo) vs. Florida International … Posted six tackles (five solo) with a pair of interceptions in the Central Florida clash … Made four solo stops while picking off his fifth pass for the season vs. Rutgers … Returned a kickoff 23 yards in the Cincinnati game … Registered seven tackles (four solo) with a stop behind the line of scrimmage and gained two yards on his sixth interception for the year vs. Pittsburgh … Had an eight-yard interception return, two kickoff returns for 17 yards and two tackles vs. West Virginia … Deflected three passes and was in on three solo tackles vs. Louisville.

2005 Season

Recipient of the team's Outstanding Special Teams Player Award … Started 11 of 12 games at left cornerback, and sat to allow D'Juan Brown to start vs. West Virginia on Senior Night … Recorded 39 tackles (23 solo) for a unit that ranked 16th nationally in pass efficiency defense (109.38 rating) and sixth in pass defense (165.42 yards per game) … Deflected three passes and intercepted two others for 10 yards in returns … Added 63 yards on three kickoff returns (21.0-yard average).

20005 GAME Analysis

Returned an interception eight yards, adding 22 yards on a kickoff return while making six tackles (4 solos) in the season opener vs. Penn State … Posted five hits (3 solos) and a pass break-up vs. Louisville … Delivered two solo hits with a deflected pass and gained 2 yards on an interception return vs. Rutgers … Made seven tackles (4 solos) with a 12-yard kickoff return vs. Cincinnati … Followed with five tackles (3 solos) in the Cincinnati game.

2004 Season

Shifted to cornerback, starting eight of 11 games, including the final seven contests at the left cornerback position … Collected 22 tackles (14 solo) with five pass deflections and a 37-yard interception for a touchdown (in his collegiate debut vs. Tennessee Tech) … Added 197 yards on nine kickoff returns (21.9-yard average) … Posted five tackles vs. Tennessee Tech and was in on seven hits in the Cincinnati contest.

2003 Season

Earned the team's Golden Bull Award winner as the top scout team player on offense, competing for that squad as a running back.

Injury Report

No injuries reported.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.41 in the 40-yard dash … 255-pound bench press … 235-pound hang clean … 37-inch vertical jump … 31-inch arm length … 9-inch hands.

High School

Attended Durant (Plant City, Fla.) High School, earning Class 5A All-State second-team honors … Added first-team All-County accolades from the Tampa Tribune, also picking up first-team All-Suncoast and All-County recognition from the St. Petersburg Times … Known more for his offensive skills, Williams scored a school-record 22 touchdowns in 2002, including six on punt returns … Rushed for 1,355 yards as a senior … Against traditional Polk County and state power Lakeland High, he carried 12 times for 178 yards and all four of his team's touchdowns in a Durant win … As a junior, he rushed for 550 yards and six touchdowns and also recorded 55 tackles as a defensive back … Played in the Hillsborough County All-Star Game, earning Most Valuable Player honors.


General Studies major … Son of Sonya Williams … Born 1/30/85 … Resides in Plant City, Florida.


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