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Mykel Williams makes plays, has big presence in his hybrid role

Palmber-Thombsby:Palmer Thombs04/14/24


ATHENS, Ga. — Mykel Williams is making a move this season, expected to transition into to having a greater presence as an outside linebacker than the past few seasons where he’s primarily played defensive end. While we didn’t see as much of Williams standing up on Saturday as we might this season, it didn’t matter. No matter what position Williams was in, he was making plays.

“First and foremost, he’s been – what’s the right word – present. He’s been able to practice. He has not, he had spring practice last year, he missed some practices. He had fall camp last year, he missed some practices. I explained to him, if you want to have a really good year, you want to have a really good camp,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s kind of bought into that. Practicing good makes you better. It’s not his fault, he’s been injured. But you can’t play good if you don’t practice.”

“I thought that he had a really good spring from a standpoint of leadership, toughness,” Smart continued. “He didn’t get a ton of reps. The guy’s been a two-year starter. But it’ll be a chance to get Ty (Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins) more reps when we come back in the fall, continue to increase Joseph Jonah-Ajonye, and then Justin Greene. We’ve got some defensive ends that can spell him. He was a factor today.”

A factor, that he was. Williams came down with an interception off of a tipped ball on the third drive of the game for the Red Team offense and Black Team defense. Getting his hand up before finding the flying object in the air, Williams helped keep Carson Beck and the UGA first-team offense off the board for the second time in three drives – and out of the end zone each time.

“I’ve tipped the ball before, but it took me about two or three seconds to find it when I looked up,” Williams said with a smile on his face. “After I found it, I just came down with it.”

“I feel like I played alright,” he added. “There were definitely some plays I wish I had back, but I feel like I did alright … I’m getting comfortable (playing multiple spots). It’s becoming common to me to switch around in different personnel.”

Williams, who finished with six total tackles including four solo stops, said he felt like his snap distribution between defensive end and outside linebacker was about 50/50. Whatever the numbers say, it doesn’t matter to him. He’s focused on getting the Georgia defense as a whole better this offseason, knowing exactly what’s expected of them.

“We’re not allowing any, I know a word, bull-junk. We’re playing to the Georgia standard,” Williams said. “The run defense is going to be the same. We’re remembering how Nolan (Smith) and those guys held me to the standard, and I’m doing the same for those guys.”

Williams will continue get comfortable playing both defensive end and outside linebacker this offseason. He’s got skills that can translate to both positions, and he’s working on fine tuning them before the next time we see the Bulldogs in action again.

As for the others around him, it’ll be a big offseason for Gabe Harris, Damon Wilson, Joseph Jonah-Ajonye and Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins. While the do-it-all ability of Williams isn’t easy to replicate, there are aspects each of them bring to the table that can help make life easier on Williams. Doing that will allow him to unlock his complete skillset and help the Georgia defense in the process.

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