For Travis Williams, who had a lot more than four family members wanting to see him play last Saturday night, finding extra seats for the South Carolina at Auburn game has been a high priority going back to August.
“I have been working on tickets since two-a-days,” says Williams, who managed to come up with the 42 seats he needed for family members to witness Auburn’s 48-7 victory over the Gamecocks last Saturday night.
Having so many family members watching his triumph was the icing on the cake for Williams, who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against his hometown team that told him he was too small to play for USC when he was an All-State senior at Spring Valley High School.
The third-year AU starter had been waiting for five years to personally show the Gamecocks the error of their ways and he did it in spectacular style. Williams, an All-SEC middle linebacker, led the Tigers in tackles with 11 vs. USC. He had five stops for losses and forced a fumble, the only turnover of the game.
Travis Williams has 30 career starts for the Tigers and was a first team All-SEC pick as a junior by the league's coaches and AP.
Cheering on the senior were family members who made the trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium from the state of South Carolina. Williams notes that he was relieved that teammates were able to help him out. “We are close-knit group and they knew it was my only time to play them,” he says. “A lot of my family members had never been to a college game.”
Williams notes that he traded his tickets for other games to come up with the seats and other teammates gave him their seats for the USC game. “A lot of guys, especially the redshirt guys whose families don’t come, gave me like four tickets,” he says.
Prior to the kickoff, defensive coordinator David Gibbs told the AU defenders that they needed to play a great game to make it a special night for their team captain. That is exactly what happened and the linebacker says he is thrilled about what happened. “It makes you feel like the coach really cares about you,” Williams notes.
“A lot of people don’t know what it is like growing up in a certain area and not being recruited, but I think Coach Gibbs really knew where I was coming from,” Williams adds. “I was just thankful to him for telling the defense to play for me.”
Gibbs does have experience in that area. He was a star defensive back at Auburn High, but was not offered a scholarship by the Tigers, who decided he was too small. He attended the University of Colorado and played on that school’s 1990 national championship team.
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville says the Tigers played their best defensive game of the season vs. the Gamecocks with Williams leading the way. The senior agrees and notes that the other linebackers had a big night. “As a linebacker corps, it was one of our best games as far as grading out so it was pretty good. When you grade high, I think it shows on the field. The main thing is that we executed the defense and had a lot of fun running around and making plays.”
The Tigers are now preparing for their third conference opponent, the Arkansas Razorbacks, who have a non-conference matchup in Little Rock on Saturday vs. Louisiana-Monroe while Auburn takes the weekend off.
“One thing about Arkansas is that they always get up to play us every year,” Williams says. “I don’t know why, but they do. They are always physical. They have a big line and big backs. It is going to be one of those slobber-knocker types of games. The team that is physical and whoever executes will win.”
Kickoff for that contest is set for 6 p.m. a week from Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark. There is no television planned, although The Auburn Network is still trying to work out a pay per view package.
Even though the network has offered to buy the remaining tickets to the game to ensure a sellout, Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles is not allowing a pay per view telecast. Auburn Network officials have asked the SEC to intervene on their behalf, but Broyles has not changed his stance.