Thanks to Barry Odom and his ties to his former team at Missouri, Arkansas’ defensive line will look a lot more stout heading into the 2021 season.
A couple weeks ago, former Missouri Tiger Markell Utsey, a gradate transfer tackle, chose to play his final season for the Hogs. So did fellow transfer John Ridgeway, a 6’6″ 325 pound man mountain from Northern Illinois who chose Arkansas over Texas, Michigan, USC and more.
Ridgeway could very well start in 2021.
Then, on Monday night, another Missouri Tiger announced he was heading to play at Arkansas under his former head coach, Barry Odom.
Tre Williams, a 6’5″ 260 pound rush end, should help immediately in an area where Arkansas was weak in 2020: consistently pressuring the quarterback.
The Missouri native had 22 tackles in 2020. The year before, before Barry Odom became Arkansas’ defensive coordinator, Williams had tallied 24 tackles with three tackles for loss and a one sack along with five quarterback hurries.
Razorback fans rejoiced when hearing the news about Tre Williams.
On the surface, everything looks hunky-dory.
He’s a graduate transfer who said he wanted to major in medicine at Mizzou to treat gastrointestinal ailments, a disease that he lost his great grandfather to. His close relationship with his grandfather led him to dedicate his career in his honor, according to his bio at Missouri.
On top of that, Williams is a savvy marketer. He may be become the second Arkansas football player (after Jerry Jacobs) to wear the number “0”. Last year was the first year that SEC players were allowed to chose that number, and he was forward-thinking enough to select it before the season began.
During fall camp 2020, he said he switched to number “0” to be more “marketable.”
But, within all the good vibes, an important fact shouldn’t be forgotten: Williams also arrives in Fayetteville with a serious red flag.
In early December 2018, Williams was coming off a successful two-year run at Mizzou in which he’d been voted as an all-SEC freshman and had a solid sophomore season.
That’s when he got into an altercation with a girlfriend. According to the police report, “the victim told police she and Williams got in an argument and while driving on South Providence Road [in Columbia], he grabbed the steering wheel and tried to wreck the car.”
“He then hit the victim with his forearm and elbow and slapped her on the chest, according to a Columbia Police Department probable cause statement.”
“After the victim threw his cellphone from the car, he began choking her until she felt she would pass out, according to the affidavit.”
Williams was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault, a Class D felony that leads to an indefinite suspension from the Missouri football program.
Odom, then Missouri’s head coach, suspended Williams from the team after the incident.
Barry Odom on Domestic Abuse
The late 2016, Barry dismissed a backup wide receiver after he was arrested for allegedly punching a woman in the face, the St. Louis Dispatch’s Dave Matter reported. (That receiver, Keyon Dilosa, was later charged with third-degree domestic assault.)
“There’s a few things in our program there’s no gray area,” Odom said after he kicked Dilosa off the team. “That’s one of them. … Our guys know. We had speakers come in and talk about all societal issues. That was one of them. As a program we’ve got to stand for certain things.”
Less than nine months later, Tre Williams was back on the practice field after pleading guilty to what ended up as a peace disturbance charge. He ultimately wasn’t charged with anything else.
Some questioned why Barry Odom allowed Williams to play again. Was he backing off his zero-tolerance policy toward scenarios of domestic abuse?
Odom said that, based on the team’s own internal review and what transpired in the court of law, he was confident he was right to let Williams play again and that he wasn’t backing off his zero-tolerance policy.
“If you look at what the things Tre did for the last eight months and he’s got a misdemeanor peace disturbance — is what the charge was through the court of law — I’ve learned you get all the information, you get all the facts, and then you make an informed decision,” Odom said.
“Through the process of the last eight months or however long it’s been, [he] went through with the proceedings in court, and I feel very strongly about how we handled this case and how we’ve handled every one that we’ve had since I’ve been the head coach.”
Florida – Missouri Fight
Less than two years later, Williams was involved in a halftime brawl during the Florida-Missouri game.
In the wake of this Halloween Night fiasco, he was was ejected for a flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct foul:
“There is no place in college football for the kind of incident that took place at halftime of the Missouri at Florida game Saturday night,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said afterward.
“Everyone involved is responsible for meeting sportsmanship standards throughout each game. Running on the field to confront a game official, the gathering of teams in an on-field confrontation and student-athletes throwing punches are all disappointing at any time, but even more so as we work to support healthy competition during a pandemic.”
Plenty players faced suspensions after that brawl, too.
Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey, offensive lineman Dylan Spencer and defensive lineman Markell Utsey all received a half-game suspension for fighting.
Tre Williams isn’t a villain. He deserves the benefit of the doubt, sure.
It’s very possible he’s learned from his past mistakes and is ready to make the most of his last season playing college football.
I’m hopeful that’s the case.
No question, Barry Odom would not have brought him back into the fold — nor would Pittman have allowed Odom to do so — if they seriously doubted his character.
But an optimistic outlook shouldn’t mean historical revisionism. Nor should it mean forgetting that domestic violence has been a pervasive problem at the highest levels of football.
When it comes to the past of any Razorback players, or any high-profile athletes for that matter, pretending like serious incidents never happened is a kind of delusion I want no part of.
What Tre Williams Did at Mizzou Under Barry Odom
Began to establish himself as a solid pass rusher during his redshirt junior season, tallying 24 tackles with 3.0 tackles for loss and a one sack along with five QB hurries, the second-most on the team behind only NFL Draft third-round pick Jordan Elliott … Played in 11 games with eight starts …
Tallied a career-high four tackles at No. 4 Georgia (11/9) … Had three tackles in five separate games, including each of the season’s final two contests against Tennessee (11/23) and at Arkansas (11/29) … First sack of the year came vs. No. 6 Florida (11/16) …
Impact rush end who made six starts and 12 appearances overall as a sophomore, racking up 20 tackles on the season … Notched five tackles for loss, including 2.5 quarterback sacks, and added three quarterback pressures.
Exciting young prospect who has a chance to be the next in a long line of very productive defensive ends at #DLineZou … Saw the field extensively in his redshirt freshman season, playing in 11 games total, and he ranked 16th on the team with 20 total tackles … While that number might not be eye-popping, consider that he had 4.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 quarterback sacks among those 20 stops, and his ability to impact a game was pretty evident …
Also ranked second on the team – despite his limited snaps — with five quarterback pressures on the season … Came on strong late in the year, as half of his tackles were produced in the final four games of the season, including three stops versus Tennessee (11/11) that included a pair of sacks and a forced fumble …
Followed with a tackle and a pressure at Vanderbilt (11/18), and made two tackles in MU’s exciting comeback win at Arkansas (11/24) … Closed the season with a strong performance in the 2017 Texas Bowl, as he tied his season high with four tackles against Texas, along with a quarterback pressure … (via Missouri Tigers sports department)
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