It’s been a week of bad news for the Iowa Hawkeyes after learning their bowl matchup with Missouri in the Music City Bowl was being cancelled. That brings to a close a 2020 season that was already scheduled to be shorter than normal due to the revamped Big Ten slate.
With the season officially behind the Hawkeyes, the Iowa staff will no doubt begin taking stock of where things stand heading into 2021. One area they need to address is the secondary. The Hawkeyes are set to lose senior starting cornerback Matt Hankins and have already lost depth at the position with the departures of DJ Johnson, Daraun McKinney and Julius to transfer.
On Monday evening, Phil Parker got some instant help in the secondary with the addition of a graduate transfer from the University of Northern Iowa as defensive back Xavior Williams committed to the Hawkeyes.
Williams is a 5’11” 190 pound DB with positional versatility. Originally an unrated prospect in the class of 2016 out of Notre Dame High School in Burlington, Iowa, Williams chose Northern Iowa over offers from Illinois State, South Dakota State and Western Illinois.
Despite the lack of stars next to his name, Williams was a multi-sport star as a prep. He was an all-state selection in football as a senior, but also won state titles in the high jump, long jump and 4x100 and 4x200 meter relays. At UNI, Williams continued his track career and finished in the top-5 in the high jump in the Missouri Valley Conference Championships the last two years according to HawkeyReport.
After redshirting as a freshman in 2016, Williams really developed into a talented, versatile player in both the secondary and in the return game for the Panthers. He was a freshman All-American for the Panthers in 2017. He leaves UNI with 122 career tackles, 9 interceptions, 24 passes broken up and a pair of fumbles recovered. He also finished with nearly 900 kick return yards as a Panther.
As a senior, Williams finished with 50 total tackles, an interception and a pair of fumble recoveries in 15 games. That included 3 tackles and a 53-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown (the longest in program history) in a triple overtime loss to Iowa State. In 2018, Williams had 4 total tackles to go with a kick return for 16 yards and a punt return for 5 yards in his only career game against the Hawkeyes.
While the FCS season has been delayed until the spring, Williams was named fourth-team preseason All-American and second team preseason all-conference.
Williams intends to enroll at Iowa in January and will have one year of eligibility remaining. However, due to the NCAA’s additional year of eligibility for all fall/winter athletes this year, it is possible he could stay in Iowa City for two seasons. He intends to play cornerback for Phil Parker’s defense, as well as contribute in the return game, but also has the versatility to slide to the safety spot as needed.
Welcome aboard Xavior Williams!