Vols junior Williams knows Swamp well

Published: Friday, September 20, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 1:20 a.m.

For Tennessee junior defensive lineman Jordan Williams, today's game at The Swamp against Florida will take on special significance.

Williams will be returning to the site where he grew up watching games on Saturdays. A Gainesville native and former Gainesville High standout, Williams will have 15 tickets set aside for family and friends.

“It's definitely exciting because a lot of my family is going to be down there, a lot of friends from high school, friends from the city are going to be there,” Williams said. “I feel good about it.”

Williams has ties to the Florida program. His father, Keith, was a former defensive lineman for the Gators in the 1980s. A three-star prospect coming out of high school, the younger Williams was offered a scholarship by Florida.

“They came on late, (but) by that time I was already committed to Tennessee,” Williams said. “I was a Vol by then so I stuck with it.”

Dad was OK with the decision, too.

“He just wanted me to play where I was happy,” Williams said. “It didn't impact my decision. He wanted me to play where I wanted to play, because he said I was going to be there four years living it, and I am.”

After some early struggles, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Williams is starting to emerge as a pass-rushing threat for the Vols. He posted two sacks last season and has 1.5 sacks in three games this year.

“I definitely feel like I've evolved,” Williams said. “The game has just kind of slowed down a lot for me. Before everything moved kind of fast, and now it's easier. I'm more conditioned to see the game, the formations and plays.”

Tennessee (2-1) is coming off a 59-14 loss at Oregon. But Williams is optimistic the Vols can bounce back from the lopsided loss this week against the rival Gators.

“Last week was a tough loss, but we've told ourselves that wasn't us,” Williams said. “We've got an SEC opponent we've got to concentrate on. I think we came out (Tuesday) and had a good practice. And I think we feel like we're prepared.”

Another Gainesville native on the Tennessee roster won't get a chance to play in his homecoming game. Defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry, another former GHS standout, suffered a knee injury last week against Oregon. Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Saulsberry is likely out 3-to-6 weeks.

Before the injury, Jones said Saulsberry had progressed better than any defensive lineman on the roster.

“He was probably playing the best of anyone that we had up front,” Jones said. “So losing him is a major, major setback for the interior of our defense.”

“He was probably playing the best of anyone that we had up front,” Jones said. “So losing him is a major, major setback for the interior of our defense.”

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