KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The sight of Preston Williams’ 6-foot-4, 209-pound frame speeding down the field, leaping into the air to high-point a catch has been a familiar one this fall camp.
Tennessee’s No. 7 looks to be the No. 1 deep threat the Vols have been longing for, and Monday night Williams finally was able to talk about the upcoming season which begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against Appalachian State.
“We’ve taken tremendous strides, basically every day at practice we have to show we can throw the ball, and coach asks for consistency from the receivers, that’s the No. 1 thing from us,” Williams said at Calhoun’s during the VolCalls radio program on Knoxville’s WNML, AM 990.
Williams came to Tennessee out of Lovejoy High School in Hampton, Ga., as a 5-star prospect. He’s now starting to come into his own after making 7 catches for 158 yards with 2 touchdowns in eight games last season.
“There were lots of little things I didn’t understand as a freshman that I sat down and watched, learned from the older guys,” Williams said. “I understand my role.”
Projected starting safety Micah Abernathy said Williams is a tough cover.
“The main thing that makes him tough to cover is his size and speed,” Abernathy said on VolCalls. “He’s an outside and inside guy; he can run routes and be physical with you.”
UT coach Butch Jones said he has been impressed with how hard Williams has worked.
“I’d get a text from Preston this summer, and it would be a video of him working on his curl route,” Jones said. “Preston has natural abilities that people don’t have with that size and speed. The thing where he has taken his game to the next level is he’s able to high point the ball now.”
Williams said it comes down to the fundamentals he’s learning from receivers coach Zach Azzanni.
“They stress technique more,” Williams said. “I’m using my size more. I worked on that all summer and I perfected my curl routes.”
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee football for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s SEC Country and lives in Knoxville.