Editor’s Note: It’s a crucial year in Auburn. Gus Malzahn enters his fourth season in a bit of a rut, but he has proven he can quickly change the trajectory of the program when his team’s back is against the wall.
Auburn needs to find a quarterback, develop receivers and lean on a defense many expect to be much improved under coordinator Kevin Steele. Will all of the pieces come together in time for a successful season?
SEC Country takes a look at the 25 Most Important Tigers (and others) who will determine whether Auburn’s season is a success or failure.
14. Tre’ Williams, linebacker
Auburn lost more than 600 tackles when Kris Frost, Cassanova McKinzy and Justin Garrett left the team following the 2015 season. The most experienced linebacker returning is junior Tre’ Williams, who with four career starts under his belt, will not only need to be the leader of the unit but also the entire defense.
Frost and McKinzy both said, without prompt, Williams will be the leader of the entire defense in 2016. They watched him mature from role player to backup to starter in two years and they believes he’s ready to do much more as a full-time starter in 2016.
Williams’ development is important, but he can also help others around him. He needs to bring along Montavious Atkinson, DeShaun Davis and Darrell Williams as well.
Tre’ Williams recorded 55 tackles and recovered a fumble while starting three games last season as then-coordinator Will Muschamp built toward the future by giving Williams more opportunities. The time is now for Williams to assert himself as a leader and one of the top players on the squad under first-year coordinator Kevin Steele.
Coming Wednesday: Seeing crimson
- No. 25 — Josh Holsey, cornerback/safety
- No. 24 — Leonard Fournette, LSU running back
- No. 23 — Rudy Ford, safety
- No. 22 — Chandler Cox, H-Back
- No. 21 — Paul James III, defensive end
- No. 20 — Kamryn Pettway, H-Back
- No. 19 — Kirby Smart, Georgia coach
- No. 18 — Austin Golson, offensive tackle
- No. 17 — Marlon Davidson, defensive end
- No. 16 — Carlton Davis, cornerback
- No. 15 — Tre’ Williams