NFL Draft

Meet Owen Williams – The NFL’s Strongest Draft Prospect


Lifting 225 pounds once is not exactly a day at South Beach for mere mortals. Yet, when someone bench-presses 225 pounds an astonishing 42 times, that is an attention grabber.

Tennessee defensive tackle Owen Williams pulled the trick during the University of Tennessee’s Pro Day in late March; and now is eyeing this Thursday’s NFL Draft for a potential crack at beginning a pro career.

Williams, whose 42 reps of 225 pounds proved to be eight more than anyone at the NFL Combine, was somewhat nonplussed about it when I had a chance to speak with him recently about his big Pro Day moment.

For the 295-pound Williams, he did not feel like he accomplished anything spectacular. Instead, he was just simply doing his job.

Throughout his early days of playing football, Williams landed at middle linebacker. Early on, it seemed to make sense at the time considering he looked up to legendary Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis as a kid.

However, upon arriving to Westside High School to play football, his days as a middle linebacker became numbered.

“When I first started playing football I played middle linebacker until I got to high school,” said Williams.

“My high school coach (Sheddrick Risper) said I had nice size for a defensive tackle so he tried me out there. It feels natural for me playing tackle.”

After wrapping up a high school career that included an All-State selection at defensive tackle, the Georgia native spent two years playing at Butler Community College – a junior college in Kansas – before arriving to Tennessee.

When he first arrived to the Volunteer state, Williams continued his adjustment from the free-form ways of high school football to more disciplined, concerted approach in college including his time at Tennessee while playing in the ultra-competitive SEC.

“You have to do more thinking (in college) than what you do in high school. High school you just get out there and just play ball,” Williams explained.

“Here (Tennessee) it’s a thought process behind everything you do out there. If you mess up your job, you’re messing up someone behind you. If everybody else is doing their except you, you’re messing up the whole scheme.”

Williams believes Tennessee defensive line coach Steve Stripling played a key role in his development during his two seasons in orange and white.

“I had to change up the whole way I played defensive line because I wasn’t used to doing defensive schemes like how we do here at Tennessee, “Williams stated. “Coach Strip had to teach me to play defensive tackle all over again.”

Williams excelled in two seasons as a Volunteer. He started 12 of 13 games during his senior season, which included five tackles during a New Year’s Day win over Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.

A grounded and quiet figure, Williams believes he can help an NFL team while still honing his craft. Since his impressive Pro Day outing Williams remains focused on the task at hand – finding his way on an NFL roster.

“Right now, I’m just trying to make sure I’m in good shape and taking care of my body.”

Whether it be Westside, Butler, or Tennessee, Williams has made an impact at each stop during his football career.

As draft day looms, he is hoping to parlay his hard work into fulfilling a dream and following in the footsteps of his hero, Ray Lewis, as an impact defensive player.

If his strength and work ethic are any indication, Williams will find himself playing on Sundays this fall.



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