DE Williams opts out of bowl following DWI
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas defensive end Tre Williams has decided to opt out of the Outback Bowl and declare for the 2022 NFL Draft, he announced Sunday.
As a sixth-year “super senior” in his final year of eligibility, the bowl was set to be the Missouri transfer’s last collegiate game. However, his status was up in the air after being arrested and charged with a DWI early Sunday morning.
In his lone season with the Razorbacks, Williams led the team with six sacks and, according to Pro Football Focus, generated a team-high 36 pressures.
“My time here has been amazing ever since I have arrived last summer,” Williams said in a message on Twitter. “Although it was for a short time, y’all welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to experience the best collegiate season I could have asked for.”
Williams is the second Arkansas player to opt out of the bowl game, in what has become an increasingly common trend for players with professional aspirations. The first was wide receiver Treylon Burks, who is widely considered a first-round pick.
A former four-star recruit in the Class of 2016, Williams originally signed with his hometown school, Missouri, over offers from Arizona State, Cal, Iowa State, Nebraska and others.
He spent five years with the Tigers, flashing his four-star potential at times, but struggling to establish himself as a premier pass rusher. Granted an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic, Williams decided to reunite with his former head coach, Barry Odom, who was now the defensive coordinator at Arkansas.
Williams burst onto the scene with a dominant start to the season with the Razorbacks, including a stellar performance against Texas A&M. There were games he struggled to generate any pressures, though, but he did have a solid performance against Mississippi State late in the year.
He had been spotted during bowl practice viewing periods, so his decision to opt out may have been influenced by his aforementioned arrest. Fayetteville police found Williams asleep at the wheel with his vehicle running and in park in the McDonald’s drive thru a little after 1 a.m. Sunday.
“With regards to what happened early this morning, I want to apologize for what occurred and not representing the state and logo the way that it should be represented, which is with pride and honor,” Williams wrote on Twitter. “I know that nothing I say can change what has happened, but as a man, I have accepted the consequences and will do better to prove that I am not that type of person.”
Arkansas will now have to rely on other players to step up and get to the quarterback against Penn State on Jan. 1.
Fellow Missouri transfer Markell Utsey has split time between defensive end and defensive tackle, while Eric Gregory, Zach Williams and Jashaud Stewart have each played more than 100 snaps at defensive tackle this season. However, that quartet of players generated just 33 total pressures despite accounting for more than twice as many snaps as Williams.