ATLANTA -- Georgia State safety Bryan Williams will return to play for the Panthers in 2017 after he was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. He will be the first sixth-year player for Georgia State football.

Williams missed the entire 2013 season and then all but three games of 2014 with a back injury that required surgery.

The veteran defensive back has two career interceptions, 11 pass breakups and 101 tackles. As a starting safety in 2016, he was fifth on the team with 61 tackles and a key part of a GSU secondary that finished seventh in the FBS in pass efficiency defense and eighth in passing yards allowed (173.9) and did not allow any pass play longer than 37 yards.

Williams was Georgia State's top backup at safety in 2015, helping the Panthers reach their first bowl game.

The Miami, Fla., native earned his degree in criminal justice in December.

The Panthers will now return three starters in the secondary with Williams joining cornerbacks Chandon Sullivan and Jerome Smith. GSU also returns linebackers Trey Payne and Michael Shaw and defensive linemen Mackendy Cheridor and Julien Laurent for a total of seven returning starters on a defense that led the Sun Belt with 4.9 yards per play allowed.