"He really is hard on himself. He wants to be the best he can be. When he makes a mistake, you can just see the expression on his face that he let everybody down. He doesn't want to do that," said Smith.
Williamson, who had 244 total tackles his junior and senior seasons at Milan (Tenn.) High School, knows he's too hard on himself can be hard to please.
"You could say I am a perfectionist. I get down on myself. I am hard on myself when I?don't do right. I am pretty hard on myself all the time," Williamson said. "But it has been going pretty good actually this camp. I have been working really hard and coming out every day grinding and trying to get ready for the season.
I want to be ready for this first game (against Western Kentucky on Sept. 1 in Nashville)." Williamson played in all 13 games as a true freshman last year mainly due to special teams play. He had 10 tackles and one pass breakup. He's backing up senior linebacker Ronnie Sneed currently and his improvement is one reason sophomore Qua Huzzie recently decided to transfer to Murray State.
"I do learn a lot from him. I sit and watch him because he knows more than me. He shows me a lot of stuff. He teaches me a whole lot every day," Williamson said.
Williamson says he's a far better player than he was a year ago.
"I am more mature. I was in my playbook a lot more last year trying to learn. I?am more confident out there and know more techniques and how to make plays," Williamson said. "They key is when you know more stuff, you can play faster. That's how you make more plays. That's what I didn't have last year.
" As a freshman you come in thinking you can just rule the world, but it is tougher than you think. It was a reality check coming into camp last year. Just being out of my element and not knowing the plays and certain techniques and things, it was tougher than I thought it would be."
Smith likes the progress he's seen from Williamson this month since the Wildcats opened preseason workouts.
"He is just one of those guys who works so hard. He is a great kid. He wants to be the best he can be and works so hard at it. He has put a lot of extra time in to learn the system and learn the package. He is going to contribute this year definitely," Smith said.
"He went through all of spring ball and studied real hard over the summer. It is coming to him right now. He makes a mistake here or there, but so does everybody else. He is really taken ownership of that position and that position gets everybody set and aligned. He's doing really well."
The sophomore thinks Minter wants to play backup linebackers in his 3-4 alignment that will normally always have linebackers on the field.
"I think he wants to play a few linebackers so he can keep us fresh throughout the game. He wants everybody fresh rather than one group playing the whole game. That's real good for me," Williamson said. "They have told me to be ready to play and that's why I prepared myself so much."
Williamson was named the West Tennessee Player of the Year as a senior by the Jackson Sun. He set a Tennessee state championship game record with 22 tackles in the state title contest his senior season. He was also named the outstanding senior of his graduating class. Yet he felt he did not receive as much attention from Division I?schools as he should have and came to Kentucky determined to prove he could be a solid Southeastern Conference player.
"I am on the verge now in my sophomore year of doing that. With just how much I?have developed in the last year, I?can tell that it (the hard work) is starting to pay off. If I just keep my mindset in the right place, I am going to do great things for Kentucky just like I?thought I could," Williamson said. He says he's on the punt return, punt and kickoff teams and could also end up on the kickoff return team.
"I am on all the special teams and defense. I am just excited for a chance to get on the field, especially on defense. I came here to play and now I'm on the verge of getting to do that a lot and that's what I?really want," Williamson said.