TALLAHASSEE -- Vince and Karlos Williams have always been competitive. Growing up, the two brothers used to find ways to turn anything into a contest.
“We used to race to the phone — phone started ringing and we’d get up and run to the phone,” Vince Williams said. “My mom would ask for the remote, we’d race to the remote. When he started beating me, that’s when I had to start cheating.”
Growing up, the Williams brothers — Vince a redshirt senior with the Seminoles, Karlos a sophomore — starred at Ridge Community High School near Orlando. Vince, the older one, played linebacker while Karlos was a five-star recruit at safety.
“Me and my little brother are only three years apart, so we’re always pushing each other,” Vince said. “He always makes fun of me because I’m not as athletic as him. But I’m like, ‘What God didn’t give me in legs, he gave me in brains.’”
Both committed to Florida State after their senior seasons of high school, and last year as a true freshman Karlos got to play beside Vince some on special teams. Two weeks ago, though, in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game, the two had the chance to do something they hadn’t done since childhood: play side-by-side on defense.
After suffering a head injury the first play of the game, Nick Moody was replaced by Karlos at linebacker. Vince was already starting for FSU in the middle. Karlos led the Seminoles with 11 tackles and the game-sealing interception.
“It was really great having Vince on the field being a coach, a general, a brother, aggravating me sometimes but just him being a leader out there,” Karlos said. “My mom called me after the game, she was crying, like, ‘I’m so happy you guys got to play together.’”
But things didn’t start smoothly for Karlos. His nerves got the better of him on the sideline, and his brother was more than happy to give him a hard time about it.
“He was over there being a punk, man, throwing up during the game?” Vince joked. “I’m like, ‘You’re nervous? You played in 22 games already and you’re nervous?’ He’s like, ‘Ah, I’m nervous, man.’”
“I’m talking to [linebackers] coach [Greg] Hudson, and he’s over there throwing up. I’m like: ‘You’re throwing up? What are you doing? Pull yourself together, man. You’re out here throwing up [and] I’m out here trying to win a championship.”
The nerves gave way to a stellar performance from both, though, and the two brothers helped the Seminoles capture their first ACC title since 2005.
It was an experience neither will soon forget. As the duo prepares for the Orange Bowl — and what will be Vince’s final game as a Seminole — they know this might be the last time they ever play together.
“It was just a great experience,” Karlos said. “You feed off the energy, he makes a tackle, you make a tackle, you’re talking to each other, you’re both talking garbage to the other team, talking to guys on the other side of the ball — y’all both going at it laughing.
“It was just a great time, a great experience. I’m happy I got to share with him, and I have one more time [to do it], going down and playing in the Orange Bowl.”