Every conversation surrounding Georgia's 2022 signing class should start with edge rusher Mykel Williams. The 6-5, 265 lbs. defensive linemen has traits reminiscent of a former Bulldog and the recent No. 1 overall pick, edge rusher Travon Walker.
Williams received national attention early in his high school career for his intangibles. Physical projections dominate the scouting industry and when you pair that projection with on-field performance as Williams did, every blue-blood program will be fighting to land you.
He flirted with several programs and even had a brief dalliance with USC. Williams pledged his services to the Trojans in the summer before his senior season but re-opened his recruitment four months later.
Ultimately, Georgia won him over. The Bulldogs didn't need to offer an elaborate explanation to elite defensive line recruits this past cycle; their historic front seven made the recruiting pitch easy.
Georgia had three defensive linemen selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft and has another first-round talent on the roster in defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Defensive line coach Tray Scott is developing a reputation as one of the premier position coaches in college football, causing top defensive line prospects to seriously consider Georgia.
Williams could be the next great edge defender in line for the Bulldogs. Georgia struggled for numerous years with the negative stigma surrounding their development of front-seven players, but they began to alter that perception this season. After all, Travon Walker was the first defensive lineman drafted from Georgia since 2013 when John Jenkins was taken in the third round by the New Orleans Saints. That stigma is silenced, to say the least.
While true freshmen don't usually make an impact early in their careers, the stars have aligned for Mykel.
It takes several things to get onto the field as a true freshman in the SEC and impact winning, like Alabama's Dallas Turner did a year ago. A freshman with 8.5 sacks, playing the majority of the snaps in a national title game. Of course, injury played a role, but Turner — and Williams — have both the physical traits required to play as a freshman and the skillset development.
He has garnered attention since his first practice with the team in January. His ability to develop a pass-rush plan pre-snap is something most players aren't able to do until the final years of their college days.
Williams also is a willing run-defender, using his body and pad level to stymy linemen at the point of attack. He excels at the 5-technique spot but can also play a 7-tech and even played some interior defensive line in high school.
During an interview with Dawgs Daily's Brooks Austin on early national signing day, Williams revealed that Georgia hopes that he can play JACK early on in his career. Travon Walker was the most recent Bulldog to fit that role, and before him was current New York Giants edge rusher Azeez Ojulari.
Though Williams spent this spring working at defensive end, taking reps with the second unit behind Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins and Tramel Walthour.
Mykel would be filling some massive shoes, but his personal evaluation suggests that the young lineman is ready. Head coach Kirby Smart has tried to temper expectations for the young edge defender, saying that he's got "a long way to go" and that he didn't know the difference between a five-technique or a seven-technique when he arrived on campus.
Surely, there's a learning curve, and surely Smart wants to protect his young player from expectations, even saying he dislikes the comparison to Travon Walker. Though it won't stop expectations from continuing to rise for Williams, especially if the play continues to match the projection.
Just as it did for Travon Walker.
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