Auburn, Ala.--It has been more than a decade since the Auburn Tigers had an All-American at linebacker (Karlos Dansby in 2003) and a first-team All-SEC player at the position (Travis Williams in 2004). Junior Tre Williams is hoping to end that streak and bring the firepower back to the position as he takes over the role as one of the leaders for Auburn’s defense this fall.
Perhaps no position on Auburn’s team in the last 10 years has been as up and down as linebacker. Despite recruiting some highly regarded prospects at that position, the Tigers haven’t played up to par for a number of different reasons, but Williams has a chance to change that.
Coming off a season in which he made 55 tackles in 12 games while sharing time with Kris Frost, the Mobile native has the talent and leadership skills to add to that total in 2016. At 6-2, 240 pounds he has the size to be physical against the run, but still has the quickness to make plays all over the field.
Best Case Scenario: Williams is an athletic player who has natural leadership qualities, something that should be very helpful for a linebacker group that has plenty of new faces this season. With a senior transfer in T.J. Neal, sophomores DeShaun Davis and Darrell Williams, and freshmen Montavious Atkinson, Richard McBryde and Tre Threat, Williams will be one of the guys counted on to lead the talented but inexperienced group in the right direction. If he plays up to his potential and the defensive line does its job, Williams could be a player who shines this fall.
Tre Williams is a junior from St. Paul's High in Mobile.
Worst Case Scenario: Even though Williams and the group has talent, it’s still a collection of players that has a combined one start in SEC play and a new defensive coordinator and new position coach. There is good news in that Kevin Steele is keeping the defense very much the same as the one they used last season under Will Muschamp, but if it takes too long to get going this season the Tigers could have problems with Clemson, Arkansas State, Texas A&M and LSU all in the first four weeks of the year.
Career Comparison: When I think about Tre Williams I see a player who has talent, but his mind for the game and quiet confidence is what carries his game to the next level. That reminds me of watching Gregg Carr play for the Tigers from 1981-1984. Eventually getting to the NFL before retiring after six seasons, Carr was one of the most productive players in Auburn history at the position. While Williams’ numbers won’t ever reach those of Carr because of his very little playing time as a freshman, he has a chance to be a leader and productive player in his own right.
Quote: “Growing up, I watched a lot of great linebackers do it. They took ownership not only of the defense but they also had part of the team. And that's just the responsibility that I'm trying to take at Auburn.”