“Yes. Of course, for sure.”
That was Garrett Williams’ response to a reporter’s question about whether or not he and breakout freshman DB Deuce Chestnut are the best cornerback tandem in the ACC. Not with arrogance or cockiness, but with the aura of confidence like it was an indisputable fact.
His confidence is validated. That’s what two All-ACC selections and being the conference leader in pass breakups in back-to-back years will do for you. Most importantly, he understands that none of the individual accolades are as sweet if they are coming after more losses than wins
“Being a leader for the team that helps us make a bowl game, and win games, that’s the biggest thing for me," Williams said. "Since I’ve been here, we haven’t won as many games as I hope, so I feel like with the guys we have on the team this year, there’s no reason to not turn that around.”
You can bet your Mega Million ticket that the main guy he is referring is his friend and roommate Mikel Jones. The 6-1 junior from Miami was the heart and soul of the defense last year, and after being named to a trio of preseason watch lists (Bednarik, Butkus, and Nargurski), national pundits have taken notice.
Mikel has been able to step into the Dome and perform since his first day on campus, but the process to become the face of the program and a team captain has not been as easy. However, according to his roommate, the way that Mikel values his teammates made it an easy transition.
“What makes Mikel such a good leader is that he’s so personable with anybody," Williams said. "He can talk to a starter or a walk-on the same way, everybody’s gonna get the same respect, and he’s such an easy guy to rally on. That’s why everybody on the team loves him.”
After shunning the NFL and the temptations of the transfer portal to return to Syracuse, Mikel is primed for an explosive senior season that will put him amongst Orange defensive greats like Dwight Freeney and Chandler Jones. Even Coach Babers has a hard time quantifying Mikel’s greatness.
“Mikel has that IT," Babers said. "I can’t tell you what it is, I don’t what it is. But he’s got IT.”
With both Garrett and Mikel as the backbone of this year’s defense, Syracuse is hoping it will lead to a bowl game.
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