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OSU football's Rodarius Williams is a rarity as a four-year starting cornerback: 'I feel like a daddy out there'

Oklahoma State cornerback Rodarius Williams is entering his fourth year as a starter. [Bruce Waterfield/Courtesy of OSU Athletics]
Oklahoma State cornerback Rodarius Williams is entering his fourth year as a starter. [Bruce Waterfield/Courtesy of OSU Athletics]

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State’s Rodarius Williams is a rarity in college football: a fourth-year starter at cornerback.

Particularly in the Big 12 Conference, few cornerbacks are good enough to start as freshmen, and even fewer can stick it out through a career.

Williams, a fifth-year senior from Shreveport, Louisiana, hasn’t missed a start in the past three seasons, and now he’s the old man in the Cowboy secondary, trying to coach up young guys who will be his eventual replacements.

“I feel like a daddy out there,” Williams said with a smile.

Williams showed notable improvement last season, particularly while being targeted more often because he had an NFL-caliber cornerback in A.J. Green on the opposite side of the field.

Williams finished fifth on the team in tackles with 58, while breaking up six passes.

With Green gone, Williams will draw more difficult assignments against the opponent’s best receiver.

Believing he’s physically ready for the challenge, Williams spent the offseason focusing on the mental side of his position.

“Basically, mentally knowing situations and being prepared to make a play is gonna be a huge deal for me this season,” Williams said.

Teammate Tre Sterling, a redshirt junior safety, has noticed Williams’ commitment to improving his mental approach.

“Rodarius has always been a heck of a ballplayer. He’s always had the ability,” Sterling said. “This year, he’s focusing more on his mental state, more on bringing it every single plays. No off plays. He’s really focusing on getting himself better.

“He’s doing some self-reflection and self-critiquing in his game — some things that I probably won’t see, but he can. Just self-awareness and stuff like that. He’s really getting nit-picky with that part of his game.”

The 6-foot, 195-pound Williams considered leaving early for the NFL, but decided to stick around for his senior season, knowing what the Cowboys had coming back on defense.

Jarrick Bernard-Converse moved from safety to cornerback and graduate transfer Christian Holmes has made a strong early impression since joining the program over the summer.

“It’s real good to have that competition in the room and give me that fire not to be comfortable with my starting position,” Williams said. “It gives you that edge, not only for me, but for everybody in the room. Our competition level has been top-tier.

“This is my last go-round. There’s no coming back after this one.”

Scott Wright

A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and... Read more ›