Vincenzo Jerard Williams (born December 27, 1989) is an American football linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft after his college career at Florida State. His younger brother Karlos Williams also played for the Seminoles and was previously on the Steelers practice squad.
High school career
Williams played high school football for Ridge Community High School and was one of the state's top linebackers. He was teammates with Mike James. Williams was named Polk County Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and 3A second-team All-State honors as a senior. He amassed almost 300 tackles with 48 tackles for loss and 25 sacks over three varsity seasons.
Regarded as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Williams was ranked as the No. 10 inside linebacker prospect in his class. He was also co-MVP of the Scout.com combine in Jacksonville. Highly recruited, Williams chose Florida State over Louisiana State, Ohio State, and Florida.
Williams graduated early from high school and enrolled at Florida State in January 2008. He was the back-up at middle linebacker, behind upper-classmen Derek Nicholson and Dekoda Watson, and saw action in every game except the win at Miami (FL). He finished the year with 10 tackles, second among freshmen, behind only Nigel Bradham. For most of his would-be sophomore season, Williams battled a back injury, though he returned to the practice field over the final month of the regular season. He was eventually granted a medical redshirt.
As a redshirt sophomore in 2010, Williams earned playing time behind senior Kendall Smith at middle linebacker after enjoying an outstanding spring practice. In the season-opener against Samford, he posted a season-high five tackles (four solos). He ended the season with 17 total tackles, while participating in 11 of 14 games.
In his junior season, Williams replaced Smith in the starting line-up at middle linebacker. He ranked fifth on the team with 54 tackles (30 solo, 24 assisted) and also added five tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception and three pass break-ups. In the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl win over Notre Dame, Williams recorded five tackles. He received one of two awards for best attitude on the defense at the team's annual banquet.
Starting all 14 games at middle linebacker in his senior season, Williams helped Florida State's defense lead the nation in yards allowed per play (3.86) and rank second nationally in total defense (254.14 ypg). He finished fourth on the team with 59 tackles, while recording five or more tackles in seven of his 14 games. One of his best games came in a road win at Virginia Tech, recording five tackles, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery. Williams ended his college career with a career-high 10 tackles in the 2013 Orange Bowl win over Northern Illinois which included his first sack of the season.
Coming out of Florida State, Williams was projected by analysts to be a sixth or seventh round selection. He was rated as the ninth best inside linebacker in the 2013 NFL Draft. He was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine but was able to participate in Florida State's annual Pro Day on March 19, 2013.
|Ht||Wt||40‑yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20‑ss||3‑cone||Vert jump||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 0 in|
|4.76 s||1.71 s||2.76 s||4.67 s||7.53 s||32 1⁄2 in|
|9 ft 3 in|
|All values from Florida State's Pro Day|
Williams was selected in the sixth round, 206th overall, by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On May 20, 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Williams to a four-year, $2.23 million contract that includes a signing bonus of $78,680.
After the release of Stevenson Sylvester, Williams was moved up the depth chart as primary backup at left inside linebacker to Larry Foote. Larry Foote suffered a torn bicep in Week 1 against the Titans, and the Steelers went through multiple starters until Williams started 10 of the last 11 games.
He made his professional regular season debut in the Steeler's season opener against the Tennessee Titans and played only on special teams. The following game, he made a season-high seven combined tackles in the Pittsburgh Steeler's 10-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. On September 29, 2013, Williams earned his first career start during a 34-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and finished with five solo tackles. On December 15, 2013, he made a season-high six solo tackles during a win over the Bengals.
Williams finished his rookie season with a total of 53 combined tackles and 40 solo tackles in 15 games and 11 starts.
He appeared on a special teams throughout the season and registered his first tackle during a Week 5 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Williams finished the 17-9 victory with three combined tackles. During Week 8, he made a season-high six solo tackles against the Indianapolis Colts. On November 9, 2014, he had his first start of the season against the New York Jets and made four combined tackle during the Steeler's 13-20 loss. The following game, Williams racked up seven tackles during a 27-24 victory at the Tennessee Titans. On December 14, 2014, Williams collected a season-high seven combined tackles in the Steeler's 27-20 defeat of the Atlanta Falcons.
He finished his second season with a total of 43 combined tackles and 28 solo tackles while starting three games and playing in all 16.
On January 3, 2016, he played in his first career playoff game when the Steelers played the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Round. Williams finished with a total of two tackles during the Steeler's 30-17 loss.
He returned in 2015 as a rotational inside linebacker. On November 29, he racked up a season-high seven combined tackles and six solo tackles during the Steeler's 30-39 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. During Week 14, he made five combined tackles and made his first career sack on Cincinnati Bengal's quarterback A.J. McCarron. On January 9, 2016, Williams made three solo tackle during a wildcard victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
He finished 2015 with 43 total tackles, 34 solo tackles, and was given credit for half a sack while appearing in 16 games and starting none.
On August 23, 2016, the Steelers signed Williams to a three-year, $5.50 million extension with a $1.50 million signing bonus.
Williams resumed 2016 as the backup inside linebacker and earned his first start of the season on October 2, 2016, against the Kansas City Chiefs after Ryan Shazier suffered an injury. He finished the 43-14 victory with a career-high 16 combined tackles (14 solo) and sacked Chief's quarterback Alex Smith for his first career solo sack. The following game, during a 31-13 victory over the Jets, Williams made nine combined tackles and sacked New York Jets' quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He started four games in place of Shazier and played effectively in his abesence before returning to his rotational role. He finished the season with a career-high 47 combined tackles and two sacks in four starts and 16 games.