Wisconsin true freshman Bryson Williams enrolled early in January and will begin the process of earning playing time at the nose tackle position this spring behind starter and will-be senior Olive Sagapolu.
It appears Williams may just need to lock down the mental side of defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard’s defense, because golly, he showed on Thursday morning that he has the physical tools to potentially contribute early.
Williams tweeted a video of himself squatting—according to the Lincoln, Neb., native’s message—550 pounds. That was not a “max out” rep, however, as he proceeded to squat the large quantity of weight three times while other Wisconsin teammates cheered him on with music blaring in the background.
Back in February, B5Q noted how Williams—with the depth of the defensive line dwindling due to outgoing seniors Conor Sheehy, Alec James, and Chikwe Obasih, along with Sagapolu having one more year of eligibility barring injury—could potentially make an early impact:
We covered Williams in our roundtable back in December, but I really think Williams—if he can adapt to the college game quickly—has an opportunity to provide depth at nose tackle. Looking at pictures and speaking with him about his lifting routine late last year, he appears physically ready to take on the responsibilities of a two-gap lineman.
Who steps up on the defensive line is a big question considering that Wisconsin loses three senior defensive ends in Chikwe Obasih, the NFL Combine-snubbed Alec James, and Conor Sheehy. Nose tackle Olive Sagapolu is the only returning starter, and presumably (OK, definitely) Isaiahh Loudermilk will fill one of the end positions. Does would-be junior Garrett Rand swing out to end, where he may be better despite holding his own with his strength and being around 270 pounds?
If Williams, who enrolled early and will take advantage of those 15 spring practices starting in March, can show that he can take on those early responsibilities (still a lot to ask for a first-year player), I believe that could allow defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard and defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield flexibility and one more player to use while searching for the best combination of linemen next season.
Spring football officially starts next Tuesday and B5Q will be there to see what Wisconsin has in store for its front seven, particularly that defensive line.
A couple of Wisconsin teammates, along with others, commented on Williams’s impressive feat:
Early enrollee making a statement. Definitely strong enough!!!!— Saeed Khalif (@CoachKhalif) March 8, 2018
Early enrollees fitting in JUST fine https://t.co/Tq60AWT1DL— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) March 8, 2018