AP NEWS

Rock Bridge grad Williams shines in first appearance for Missouri

April 16, 2017 GMT

COLUMBIA — Tre Williams committed to Missouri in 2015, believing he had what it took to become Missouri’s next great defensive lineman.

A four-star recruit, Williams redshirted his true-freshman season and watched from the sidelines as Missouri’s once-feared defensive line struggled to come together. He saw the passion with which Charles Harris played despite the team’s struggles, knowing that he would be filling their shoes one day.

“I got to watch Charles Harris, get tips from him, sit in the film room with him, physically on the field with him,” Williams said. “I’m a sponge out here.”

Still, it was hard to miss out on the action he had become accustomed to just a few miles south on Providence Road. He was a star defensive lineman at Rock Bridge High School and was hoping to continue his success from the moment he signed on with the Tigers.

“All that watching just gets me anxious,” Williams said. “Last year, I know I wasn’t playing but I was one of the one’s that was sweating.”

While waiting in the wings, Williams worked on becoming a more complete defensive end. He was mainly a speed rusher for the Bruins, utilizing a quick first step to make up for what he lacked in physical strength.

As a result of intensive workouts, he gained 15 pounds last fall, all while maintaining his speed, to prepare for the day he would find playing time for the Tigers.

“I realized that I was getting put in the ground on run plays,” Williams said. “Now, I’m not getting put in the ground.”

On Saturday, Williams got his first taste of playing college football, even if it was just in a glorified scrimmage. He suited up in with Missouri’s first-team defense to take the field in the Tigers’ annual Black & Gold Game.

Williams didn’t expect to be in a starting role before the week started. When redshirt senior Marcell Frazier suffered a broken arm, a spot on the line opened up for the redshirt freshman.

Williams made the most of his opportunity, recording three tackles and a sack against the Gold team. His performance caught the eye of former defensive standout Shane Ray, who was in attendance for Saturday’s scrimmage.

“Here at Missouri, the defensive line is a tradition,” Ray said. “I think it’s important that he handles his business and shows the work that he’s talking about because at the end of the day, everybody’s going to be watching him.”

Saturday’s game offered glimpses of the talent Williams possesses. Now, he will look to continue his momentum into the 2017 season.

“I’m still growing as a player,” Williams said. “This is only the beginning.”

Supervising editor is Jonathan McKay.