Williams Says Tigers Playing For Championship

Auburn linebacker Travis Williams talks about being named All-SEC and preparing for Virginia Tech.

Auburn, Ala.—-Linebacker Travis Williams has heard it all. He's too small to play in the SEC, he's too small to play outside linebacker, he's too small to play middle linebacker, but nothing anyone has said mattered to the Columbia, SC., native. All he did was keep working and working until he got the job done.

This season, his first at middle linebacker, the 210 pound Williams did his job so well that the coaches voted him onto the All-SEC squad as a first-teamer after Auburn won the SEC title and finished first in the league in total defense. That was a dream come true for a player that loves nothing better than just playing football.

"That's one of the biggest accomplishments and now I can just say ‘I told you so'," Williams says. "I read the internet and I get on the message boards. A lot of people were concerned about by size and doubting me, but Coach Whitt (Joe Whitt) had faith in me, Coach Tubs (Tommy Tuberville) did and my teammates. The SEC thing is because of T.J. (Tommy Jackson), Jay Ratliff, Stump (Josh Thompson), Wayne (Wayne Dickens), really the whole defensive line just keeping guys off me and letting me be able to run. Without them I wouldn't have made all conference.

"In the spring I was an outside backer," he adds. "Coming into two-a-days my first time playing mike was in two-a-days. To come out first-team all-conference off of just starting mike in two-a-days is a big accomplishment. This whole year I was on a mission just to prove people wrong. It's not about proving people wrong now because they know I can play. Now I have to step my game up to another level and be a leader of the defense."

Williams chases Mississippi State quarterback Omar Conner.

Williams and the rest of the leaders on defense got back to work last week when the Tigers began practicing for the Nokia Sugar Bowl in New Orleans where they will face Virginia Tech. Despite not being invited to play in the BCS title game in the Orange Bowl, Williams says that Auburn is very excited about playing in one of the biggest games of the bowl season.

"We're privileged and thankful because there are a lot of teams that want to be where we're at," Williams says. "We still have a chance for the share. We just have to stay focused because we've got to take care of Virginia Tech. There are a lot of teams that would love to be where we're at.

"It's just another thing that we have to prove," he adds. "Every time we step on the field we prove something. This is one of those situations where we've got to prove we should be in the BCS. Right now we look at ourselves as the "People's Champion" because everybody wants to see Auburn in it. We have to prove to the people that we should be in it. We have to respect Virginia Tech though because they're trying to prove they belong also."

One thing that could easily happen is an Auburn loss to Virginia Tech, who comes in as one of the hottest teams in the country after eight straight victories. Williams says that whatever happens in the Sugar Bowl the season will be one he never forgets because of the way this team has played week in and week out. While that is nice, there is little doubt that Williams is hoping to finish off a perfect season in style with another championship.

"We want to win, but I think this year proves we are a good team," Williams says. "We're not going to go in with the pressure of beating Virginia Tech because they are a good team. Personally, I think they should be undefeated. They should have beaten USC and at the end they missed a field goal against North Carolina State with no time on the clock. They could easily be undefeated so this is our championship. No matter if we're playing in New Orleans or not. We're playing it as our championship."

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