Carriere-Williams carving out an important role in Wisconsin's secondary

Dontye Carriere-Williams is playing an important role in Wisconsin's secondary. 

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

In just his first season of action for the Badgers, redshirt freshman cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams shouldn’t be considered “the guy” in Wisconsin’s secondary.

The Florida native was unknown to most fans coming into the season and listed below UW’s veteran cornerbacks Derrick Tindal and Nick Nelson on the depth chart.

But six games into the season, it’s clear that Carriere-Williams has a sizable role on the Wisconsin secondary, effectively serving as the third cornerback and seeing the field in a variety of different packages.

“He’s definitely gonna be the guy when we leave,” Tindal said. “So right now he gotta wait his turn behind me and Nick (Nelson).

Tindal added, “I feel like he’s gonna be the guy kinda early.”

While Carriere-Williams has improvements to make if he wants to claim that title, the redshirt freshman is certainly surrounded by the types of people that can further his development.

“The experience that D.T., Natrell Jamerson, Nick Nelson and those guys have is second to none,” Carriere-Williams said. “So I love to pick those guys’ brains the whole time.”

Carriere-Williams, who previously attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is no stranger to being surrounded by talent, as he played with future Ohio State and Miami recruits Nick Bosa and Sam Bruce before coming to Wisconsin.

St. Thomas Aquinas has also sent hordes of players to the NFL, such as the All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins, Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin Sr. and former Badger running back James White.

Now in college, Carriere-Williams takes pointers from Tindal and Nelson, but the sentiment that affects him most is largely the same as the one he followed in high school: Just get better.

“I’d say it motivated me to be able to do the same things those guys did,” Carriere-Williams said of his high school’s football legacy. “People like James White, obviously he went to St. Thomas Aquinas and came here to Wisconsin. Now he’s with the Patriots doing great things.”

Carriere-Williams’ inexperience is not a secret to the Badgers’ opponents, who have often peppered his side of the field with targets to see if the young cornerback can be exploited.

Sure, he’s given up a few big plays, but all cornerbacks do over the course of the season.

The defensive back isn’t letting a few conceded catches get him down.

“He wants to be successful,” said defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. “I don’t see him as a guy who gets shook when somebody catches a ball on him.”

Aside from the earful he may receive from Leonhard after a blown coverage, Carriere-Williams knows he’ll hear it from his fellow defensive backs too, as the unit is extremely close off the field as well as on.

Carriere-Williams shares a room with Nelson, and has frequent Madden battles with Tindal in in the cornerback’s free time.

When Saturdays come, that connection proves valuable, and translates to a more serious repertoire where Wisconsin’s defensive backs can hold each other accountable.

“If we see something wrong, we’ll get on each other, and we know not to take it to heart,” senior safety Natrell Jamerson said. “We just know we’re tryna get us better.”

That desire to improve is shared collectively by the rest of his teammates, as the No. 6 Badgers will look to improve to 7-0 for the first time since 2004 this Saturday.

Standing in their way is a Maryland team down to their third-string quarterback, sophomore Max Bortenschlager, who boasts a completion percentage of just 50.9 percent thus far.

The Terrapins have dropped consecutive conference games to Ohio State and Northwestern, while the Badgers will be looking to tighten their play up after eeking out a 17-9 victory vs. Purdue.

Though the Wisconsin defensive backs remained tight-lipped on Maryland’s quarterback situation, the unit will surely be licking its lips ahead of welcoming Bortenschlager to Camp Randall.

As Jamerson put it, “There’s gonna be opportunities for us.”

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