A player who gives tireless effort on the field and in the classroom, Williams has been a leader for the Auburn defense since he first set foot on the field and he says he's looking forward to seeing how the 2005 defense plays this fall after an up-and-down two-a-days this preseason..
"We've got a lot of talent, but talent doesn't mean anything if one person messes up here or there," Williams says. "We've got to get all 11 guys doing their assignments. There's nothing wrong with the scheme, it's just us doing our assignments. It could be a defensive lineman missing their gap or a linebacker missing a gap or a safety missing something. Every time we watch the film it's 10 guys instead of 11. We just have to get all 11 guys doing their assignment."
Known as a smart player coming out of Spring Valley High in Columbia, S.C., Williams has always relied on his mind and speed to make plays from his linebacker position. That is the formula that Auburn used last season to lead the SEC in scoring defense and Williams says that the mental part of the game is something the Tigers have to become better at before the first game against Georgia Tech on Sept. 3.
"That's the main thing," Williams notes. "Last year, what we did is we were a smart defense. It's very rare that a team can physically beat you. There is never a team that is going to stand up and whip you for 70 plays. The main thing is when you're tired to know your assignment. If that's your man then get your man, things like that. The main thing is when the monkey jumps on your back just pay attention to details and do your assignments."
Travis Williams is an extension of AU linebacker coach Joe Whitt when the senior is on the field.
Depth has been a concern in past years for the Tigers at just about every position on defense, but this season that shouldn't be a problem for new coordinator David Gibbs. With quality reserves at every position the talent is there to make good things happen.
The depth has taken an even bigger shot in the arm this preseason with the play of several newcomers. Williams says that quite a few players have caught his eye on the field, but two in particular stand out above the rest.
"Sen'Derrick (Sen'Derrick Marks) can play," Williams says of the defensive tackle. "He's going to help us win games this year. All of our defensive backs are talented. Tray Blackmon is making tackles. He doesn't know what he's doing, but he's making plays. You can tell that in high school he was taught by a pretty good coach because he's doing a lot of technique things that a lot of guys don't get here until the second year. He's already ahead of the game.
"Sen'Derrick is the one young guy that's really standing out though," he adds. "He's tough, but the main thing is that he's buying into the system. A lot of times when you recruit a guy and he's a five-star, but you can just get a good solid defensive lineman for your scheme it doesn't matter what star they are. He's coming in and just buying into the coaching of Coach (Don) Dunn and the scheme of Coach Gibbs. He's really going to help us."
One huge positive for the young kids on defense this fall is they have the opportunity to play under the leadership of Williams, Tommy Jackson and Antarrious Williams. The trio has been through the wars in the league and knows what it takes to be successful in the SEC.
Two of those winning traits are pride and practicing hard, something that Williams shows when the team has to run at the end of practice. Always finishing first in his group, he says that it's just something he feels like he has to do to show the way for the players coming up behind him the next few seasons.
"I do it because I don't want to be one of those guys that's leading when it's easy," Williams says. "When you run it's tough and they're going to need some other guys besides the coaches rooting them on. I try to lead by example so when I'm running I try to be in front and I'm up there rooting them on. They know I'm rooting them on because I'm doing it myself. A lot of guys look up to me and the first time I mess up they'll think that's the way to go. I try to lead in a positive way."
Williams and his teammates will have a break from practice on Wednesday as fall semester classes start. They will be back on the field on Thursday, 16 days away from the season opener vs. Georgia Tech.