SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Ohio State will go to any lengths to prepare for an opponent, especially with a month to plan for its College Football Playoff matchup.
When it comes to mimicking Clemson quarterback and Heisman runner-up Deshaun Watson, it’s all hands on deck. The Buckeyes have been using true freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins to simulate Watson’s arm. To imitate his running, however, they’ve turned to an unexpected place — backup safety Eric Glover-Williams.
Glover-Williams was one of four members of the class of 2015 to play as a true freshman. He primarily played on special teams, which is what he’s done again this season. However, his role this season has gone beyond his impressive work on kickoff coverage. To get ready for Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Ohio State used Glover-Williams as a scout team quarterback. The Buckeyes held Armstrong to 19 rushing yards in a 62-3 win. He also completed just 4 of 15 passes and never looked comfortable in the pocket.
With Watson on deck, the Buckeyes have again turned to Glover-Williams. Watson moves well in the pocket and is adept at sidestepping pressure. To practice against that, the Buckeyes have enlisted the services of arguably the most elusive player on the team.
“Eric Glover-Williams is probably one of the most dynamic guys in college football,” linebacker Chris Worley said. “He doesn’t always get to show his ability, but you do get to see it on special teams. He’s one of the fastest guys on this team. He’s been timed at 22.7 miles per hour. That’s crazy. Not a lot of people can run that fast. He can run that fast and stop on a dime and get to 20 miles per hour in seven steps going a different direction. Not many guys in college football can do that.”
Glover-Williams honed those skills in high school at Canton (Ohio) McKinley. He came in as a tailback but played quarterback his sophomore and junior seasons. As a senior, head coach Thom McDaniels had him play cornerback and moved him back to tailback on offense.
McDaniels, who returned from retirement to coach Canton McKinley before Glover Williams’ senior year, said it didn’t take long to see how special he was. Before the Bulldogs put on the pads, he knew he had a special player on his hands.
“He functions at a different speed than almost everybody else,” McDaniels said. “He was the guy that defenders hated to have the ball because you were liable to be embarrassed. Here you are grasping at air and he’s gaining yards down the field.
“To hear that he’s playing that role in bowl preparation makes absolutely total sense to me. It’s Ohio State, so they’ve got a lot of great skill players. But I don’t think they could find a better guy to play that role.”
Throughout the week, Ohio State defenders have praised Glover-Williams for his selflessness. Instead of working at safety, he’s been spending time going against his fellow defenders in practice. Furthermore, he’s been watching extra film of Watson to study the way he moves and the fakes he uses.
Ultimately, Glover-Williams appreciates the chance to make an impact, even if it’s an anonymous one. Fans won’t be able to see the work he did in practice, but they’ll be able to see the result.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “Just being a team player, anything I can do to help my team is what it’s all about. I just try to show my defense a great imitation of what they’re going against.