By LARRY VAUGHT
He knows he’s being counted on not just a defensive leader, but as a team leader by coach Mark Stoops. However, that suits Kentucky senior linebacker Avery Williamson.
“I am used to it now. I have been doing it since last year. I feel like I have tried to be a leader since my sophomore year really,” said Williamson. “I am used to it. If he wants to put that weight on my shoulders, I will take it up.
“The biggest thing is just knowing what I have to do all the time. I have been in the playbook a lot. Going to meetings with coaches, watching film, just knowing what I have to do on the field and leading by example. I also talk to guys and tell them what is right and what is wrong. That’s a big part of leadership.”
Williamson certainly led by example last year even during UK’s dismal 2-10 season. He finished second in the Southeastern Conference with 135 tackles and was seventh nationally in total tackles. He had a career-best 20 tackles against Vanderbilt, a game where the Commodores embarrassed UK. He had a streak of four games with at least 13 or more tackles in each game, the first UK player to do so since Randy Holleran in 1990.
While Williamson won’t criticize former defensive coordinator Rick Minter for last season’s woes, he did admit that the overall positive vibes from Stoops and his staff could make it easier to lead his teammates.
“It is a lot easier when the guys see the coaches respecting you,” Williamson said.
And that says volumes about what went on with Minter last year.
“It takes a little bit of pressure off you when the coaches respect you. Coach Stoops has really helped me out by backing me up a few times. The assistant coaches and strength coaches have done that as well. That makes a big difference,” Williamson said.
Can that attitude make players perform better?
“I feel like it can. Having a fresh start, I feel like guys will be a whole lot looser and play a lot harder this year,” said Williamson, who has played in 37 career games.