Vince Williams wasn’t supposed to grow up this quickly.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie linebacker ended up not having a choice.
A season-ending injury to veteran Larry Foote and inconsistent play by Kion Wilson has thrust Williams into a starting role, and while fellow rookie Jarvis Jones struggles to learn the intricacies of Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense, Williams is quietly holding his own.
Though defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau cautions it’s too soon to make any real judgment on the play of Williams or Jones, who has been demoted to the second string, there’s little doubt he’s pleased with how far Williams has come.
“I think that Vince is doing a good job,” LeBeau said. “He’s getting better every week. That’s what we’re looking for from both of those young guys. They’re playing a lot of football for us. The faster they get to be a veteran — we’re getting close to the halfway mark, which you can’t call them rookies, but they’re first-year men. They’re both really good men and are working hard. They both are going to be fine.”
Even if at the moment, the sixth-round selection Williams is perhaps a little more fine than Jones, taken with the 17th overall pick.
“(But) I think Jarvis is on schedule for a first-year linebacker,” LeBeau said. “I don’t think he’s further ahead or behind where James Harrison was, Jason Worilds was or LaMarr Woodley was. I think Jarvis is going to be fine. I like to think he isn’t either ahead or behind of where a first-year linebacker should be. (And) Jarvis is a playmaker. I’ve got to find ways to put him in where he can make plays. (So), I’m looking for good things from Jarvis.”
While the Steelers expect and certainly need big plays from Jones, Williams just needs to be steady on the inside. And while there have been some growing pains along the way, Williams has been solid. He’s fourth on the team with 37 total tackles, including 23 solo, while Jones has 15 tackles and three quarterback pressures.
“I really feel like I’m getting the hang of it now, and things are starting to slow down a tad for me,” Williams said. “I’ve been getting more reps now, the feel for it is a lot better, and things are really starting to happen for me. So, there’s a big difference between my play at the beginning and how I’m playing now.”
The Steelers (2-5) need Williams to continue his growth spurt on Sunday against New England (6-2).
“Coach LeBeau has a very complicated and intricate defense, and it takes a lot to be able to master it and get it down to be able to go out there and perform,” Williams said. “It’s especially tough for a guy in his first year in the NFL, so it takes a great deal and dedication. But I think I’m getting there slowly, but surely.”
NOTES: WR Markus Wheaton (right pinkie finger), OG David DeCastro (ankle) and CB Curtis Brown (not injury related) already have been ruled out for this week. ... Guy Whimper likely will replace DeCastro in the starting lineup. “They didn’t tell me that yet,” Whimper said. “But I’ve practiced all week like I’m going to start, and I’ll be ready if I get the call.” ... The long list of probable players, includes OG Ramon Foster (concussion), NT Steve McLendon (illness), ILB Lawrence Timmons (hand) and Whimper (knee).
Vince Williams wasn’t supposed to grow up this quickly.
Mountaineers stun No. 8 Kansas, 92-86
The missing link finally showed itself for West Virginia University on Saturday, maybe just in time to save the season for the Mountaineers.
“Better late than never,” is the way WVU guard Eron Harris put it after freshman center Devin Williams stepped out of the shadows and put together the game everyone has been waiting for in leading the Mountaineers to a crucial 92-86 victory over Kansas.
FSU’s rally falls short against ’Toppers
Twenty minutes into Saturday night’s Mountain East Conference semifinal-round showdown between top-seeded and No. 3 ranked West Liberty and fourth-seeded Fairmont State here at the Charleston Civic Center the Falcons looked down and out.
Fairmont native named next Mountaineer
The riffle has been passed.
Fairmont native Michael Garcia was named West Virginia University’s new Mountaineer Saturday.
The announcement came at the eight minute mark of the men’s basketball team’s eventual 92-86 upset win over No. 8 Kansas at the WVU Coliseum.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Eron Harris bounces back to spark WVU
One minute and forty-seven seconds had ticked off the Coliseum clock on Saturday afternoon and things were off to the kind of start most people had expected, Kansas in the lead, albeit as slender as a one-point lead can be.
That was when Juwan Staten spotted Eron Harris open beyond the 3-point arc.
Staten plans to test NBA after season
To the surprise of no one, West Virginia University guard Juwan Staten is going to explore his opportunities in the NBA at the end of this season, a season in which he has become perhaps the best player in the Big 12.
WVU women outlast TCU to advance in Big 12 tournament
In the afternoon, West Virginia’s men’s team gave up a career-high 41 points to Andrew Wiggins but found a way to tough out a victory over Kansas.
Then Saturday evening, the West Virginia women’s team gave up a career-high 32 points to Zahna Medley but found a way to tough out a victory over TCU in the second round of the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championships in Oklahoma City.
Fairmont Senior closes out East Fairmont for Section 1 title: PHOTOS
When they cut down the nets Friday night at the Woody Williams Armory, the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears were the ones holding the scissors.
Each player took home a piece of the twine, a small memento from a 59-51 victory over East Fairmont in the Section 1 championship game.
Cooper leads FSU past Bobcats, 70-62
Brendan Cooper played liked a first-team all-league selection even though he strangely wasn't, and Chase Morgan did what he does best in the game's final 1:18 – hit shots.
The result was a 70-62 Fairmont State victory over fifth-seeded West Virginia Wesleyan Friday evening in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Buie returns to WVU after a year away
It’s nearly every little boy’s dream to become a college football athlete, to play in a stadium before 60,000, 70,000, 100,000 fans, to wear the colors of a university proudly. There are cheerleaders and groupies; there’s your name in headlines, your picture in the newspapers.
WVU looks to back up Huggins’ prediction
It was after Kansas defeated West Virginia University, 83-69, a month ago in Lawrence, Bob Huggins reached into his deep library of inspirational sayings and came out with one from Abe Lemons, of all people, the one-time Texas coach who never was at a loss for words.
- More Sports Headlines
- Mountaineers stun No. 8 Kansas, 92-86