Sept. 17, 2013
By Brian Rice KNOXVILLE, Tenn.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.-- Jordan Williams will have a homecoming on Saturday, but there won't be streamers or a cake. In fact, the majority of the attendees won't even be particularly nice to him.
The home of the Swamp is home for Williams. His quarterback at Gainesville High School is now a walk-on at Florida. His father, Keith Williams, was a Gator from 1982-85. His sister Janine was a member of the UF Volleyball team for two seasons, 2006-07. The ties are many, but the bond was broken when he came to Knoxville.
"It's exciting," Williams offered simply when asked of the emotions of returning to play before a hometown crowd.
Asked to expound further on the thought, Williams echoed Butch Jones' mantra of consistent focus and preparation.
"I feel like every game is important," Williams said. "They are one of our rivals and whether it be here or there it is a real important game for us. Personally no, it is just another team to play."
Jones is looking to the junior to continue building on his performance week by week. But it's not his motivation for playing the hometown team that is the most critical for Williams in Jones' eyes, it's bringing the type of physical nature to the field that the opponent requires.
"Jordan is an individual that needs to continue to step up," Jones said. "I think he's developing, he's growing each and every week. He's been challenged this week because of the nature and the physicality that is going to be required in this game."
Growing up in the town with his father as an alumni, Williams had a great understanding of the Tennessee-Florida rivalry and the way it permeated the consciousness of the town during game week. He also remembers the last UT win in the series, right down to where he watched the game.
"I remember that game and was actually in CiCi's pizza and I remember watching that," he said. "I was probably like 11. I was in the pizza shop watching it."
Williams appeared in nine games as a freshman in 2011, but one of the three in which he didn't see action was at Florida. This time around, he expects to be a big part of the game plan. And despite the color he wore during his playing days, Williams knows his father will be wearing the right shade of orange on Saturday.
"My dad is definitely going to be in the stands and cheering me on," he said.