FSU RB Karlos Williams could be dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy

Entering his final season at Florida State, Karlos Williams is the No. 1 running back on FSU's depth chart and, perhaps, a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

Florida State running back Karlos Williams (9) ran for 730 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

Matthew Emmons / USA TODAY Sports

Florida State's 2011 recruiting class was ranked the best in America. The class featured three Rivals.com 5-star recruits: defensive lineman Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, running back James Wilder, Jr., and safety Karlos Williams.

Williams' first two seasons did not go well. He struggled to find playing time in a crowded and very talented secondary featuring future NFL defensive backs Xavier Rhodes and Lamarcus Joyner.

Finally in 2013, after years of pleading and campaigning from FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher, Williams agreed to a position change and joined the offense as a running back.

"Sometimes you can be really good at one thing and great at another," Fisher said of the Williams position switch.

In his first year at running back, Williams averaged 8.0 yards per carry to lead the team. He finished the season with 91 rushing attempts, 730 rushing yards, and 11 touchdowns.

Splitting carries with running backs Devonte Freeman (now with the Atlanta Falcons) and James Wilder, Jr. (currently in camp with the Cincinnati Bengals), Williams received only 26 percent of the rushing attempts compared to Freeman's 49 percent. Even with the disparity, Williams finished just 300 yards and three touchdowns behind Freeman, who led FSU with 1,016 rushing yards and 14 TDs.

Now entering his final season at Florida State, Williams is the No. 1 running back on FSU's depth chart and, perhaps, a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

"I'm very excited," Williams said. "Being a starter at Florida State has always been a dream of mine ever since I was a little kid."

It's impossible to predict Williams' numbers for the upcoming 2014 season, but if he matches his per carry average of a season ago and gets a similar workload to that of Freeman, he would surpass 1,400 yards on the ground.

"He's 6-foot-1, 232 pounds, runs a 10.5 100-meters -- can catch, can run, is very natural with the ball in his hand," Fisher said. "He can change numbers on a scoreboard."

Only one running back has won the Heisman since 2000 -- Mark Ingram in 2009. That season, Ingram rushed 271 times for 1,658 yards and 16 TDs.

Williams doesn't enter the season on any top 10 "Heisman hopeful" lists and with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner as a teammate, he's easily overlooked. But even quarterback Jameis Winston can attest to Williams' talent.

"Karlos is playing with a purpose," Winston said of his running back. "He's got a chip on his shoulder. ... And he knows this year could be his last."

The top-ranked Seminoles open their season in Dallas on Aug. 30 against Oklahoma State, giving Williams a great opportunity to showcase his talents in front of a national audience that likely doesn't know much about him.

"I'm ready to execute," Williams added. "Just play football, have fun, be loose. ... I'm ready."