Auburn, Ala.--Having to replace three very important senior linebackers from last season, first-year linebacker Coach Travis Williams said so far the spring has been a productive one for his guys as they try to get used to some changes in scheme with Kevin Steele taking over as defensive coordinator. Already familiar with his guys after coaching them the last two bowl games, Williams said he’s seen all of them take some big steps forward already.
“I think it was great because I already had a scouting report on them,” Williams said. “Even with the coaches that they had, every coach thinks of a player different. I may have a certain grade on a guy and you may have a certain grade on a guy. I saw stuff on every kid in there that maybe another coach didn’t see or I saw the same things. It’s amazing how good a kid can get from the bowl game.
“A lot of the kids out there are totally different kids than they were in December. My redshirt sophomore year, that’s when the light clicked on. That was my third year in it. My redshirt sophomore year they were like ‘who is that kid?’. I don’t know what happened, it just clicked. Everything started moving slow.
“Now you’ll see guys who are in their third year and the fans will be like ‘who is that?’ You just have to continue to develop. You can’t throw them away. It’s not like the NFL where you cut them and get another one. You have to continue to develop them.”
Building around returning junior Tre Williams is the starting point for the group said his new coach and so far the only experienced player has done a good job of taking on the role of a leader with the unit. Another player that has stepped up his game is redshirt sophomore DeShaun Davis. Redshirting his first season at Auburn while recovering from a knee injury, last year Davis only played a handful of snaps while getting limited reps in practice. Now getting his shot to show what he can do, Davis is showing he’s going to be able to help said Williams.
“Tre Williams has a really good skill set,” Williams said. “He made some really good plays this past spring. I’m very proud of his progress. I’m very proud of DeShaun Davis, who is really having a good spring. He has some things you can’t coach such as instinct, eyes. If you’re going out there in shorts and you’re going to one of these camps and tell him to jump high and run fast then you’re going to look past him.
“If you’re looking for a football player then DeShaun Davis is a football player. Tre Williams is a football player. Richard McBryde is getting better. Darrell Williams is getting better. Montavious Atkinson is getting better. Every kid is getting better. Tre Williams in his third year should be 10 times better than last year. DeShaun Davis has probably taken five snaps his whole career on defense. You will see him a lot this year. Just that third year the light comes on and he has a chance to do some good things.”
Very happy to be back in a position he considers his dream job, coaching linebackers at Auburn, Williams said the goal is to continue to see improvement as the Tigers look to turn things around following last season’s 7-6 season. With the pressure seemingly on this team to get it done Williams said for him that’s not something he feels because that’s something that should be on you at a place like Auburn.
“At this place you’re expected to win,” Williams said. “I want to win. I want that challenge. You put your back against the wall and you just scrap it out and put your best foot forward. That’s what this place is about. As far as pressure, I don’t see any pressure. I just have to focus on coaching the linebackers and focus on developing the linebackers. That’s my goal.”