Entering the season, most of the focus at the running back position was on Trey Edmunds but Edmunds turned out to be the third best running back on the roster. Shai McKenzie proved himself a lot early on and has a very bright future ahead but after tearing his ACL, the attention that was split between McKenzie and Marshawn Williams was shifted to Williams.
The true freshman running back from Hampton, Virginia has proved that he has a very bright future.
Williams has not had much help from the offensive line this season but Williams has still been productive despite not getting many holes from his offensive line. Williams has 106 carries for 437 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns, and an average of 4.1 yards per carry which is impressive given the offensive line struggles.
Williams has already had two games of over 100 rushing yards which is better than what Edmunds did as a true freshman. Williams probably had his best half of the season in the second half against Miami while the early 2-play touchdown drive against North Carolina proved how Williams could make things happen quickly as he got the ball for both plays to get the touchdown and early lead at Chapel Hill.
One thing that has made Williams a playmaker this season is the fact that the freshman running back is incredibly strong and tough. Williams is able to break tackles and run over people in a similar manner to Seattle Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch.
Williams is able to get a lot of extra yards because of not only his strength but also because of his toughness and fight to get every yard he can get. Williams seems to be able to turn a loss or a run of no gain into 1 or 2 yards, or a 3 or 4 yard run into a 5 to 7 yard run. Williams is hard to bring down and if you don’t have a quality tackle, Williams is likely to break that and teams almost have to have multiple players to bring him down.
Something Williams has improved over the course of this season is his explosiveness and speed combination to break out big plays. This was on display in the second half against Miami when Williams found space and took advantage for a 41-yard run that brough some excitement until another Virginia Tech fumble.
One thing Williams needs to work on some is his ball security as he had a fumble against Georgia Tech that was recoverd by Michael Brewer and taken for a touchdown. Williams also had a fumble on the 2 yard line against Miami in the second half that took away some momentum early in the second half that the Hokies could have used to get back in the game.
Williams is only a true freshman and I expect that his ball security will improve over the rest of this season and beyond. Williams also has gotten into better shape and learned his lesson in fall practice about not getting out of shape in the offseason.
Marshawn Williams is a future star running back for the Hokies and that is something Virginia Tech fans can be very excited about.