The winding down of a collegiate career comes so fast, but so slow. Syracuse defensive lineman McKinley Williams could be playing his last football game on Saturday against Pitt. But for certain, Williams will be playing his last game in the Dome.
“It’s a real touching experience,” Williams said. “I just want to put on a show and represent for the ones who came before me.”
The Florida native started his career at Syracuse in 2016. Williams credits his upbringing and being from Florida for allowing him to be so successful in football.
“Shoot they both start with the letter F man,” Williams said. “It’s definitely a different world down there and it starts from like age 4 or 5 and goes all the way up.”
Williams recounts growing up with a lot of great players in Florida, such as Devin Bush and Nick Bosa. Williams played with Bosa during his freshman year at St. Thomas Aquinas before transferring to Dillard High School.
Throughout Williams career for the Orange, he has recorded 117 tackles, 20 TFLS, and four sacks. Williams' physical presence is every sort of manly. Sticking his fingers in the dirt is what he prides himself in. But being physical is a big part of his game, Williams said.
The bulging traps, wide neck, and 6’4 frame is why he is called “Bear” or “Grizzly.” The playmaking ability of Williams and the rest of the defensive line will be needed this week against PITT. With one guaranteed game left in the season, the Orange are looking for ways to keep their season alive by beating Pitt.
“It’s a good way to make a statement especially it being the last game for the official season,” Williams said. “Beating them would set the tone going into next year.”
The young Syracuse football team does not have many players who have experienced a bowl game before. Williams is one of the select few, who got the chance to experience a victory at the Camping World Bowl against West Virginia back in 2018. For Williams the camaraderie of being able to kick it with the staff and everyone involved in the program, Williams said, is what makes bowl games so special.
“ We all just travel out to a location and really just spend more time together off the field,” Williams said.
To make it to a bowl game the Orange have a large task. This task involves beating the #17 Pitt and stopping their highly powered offense. Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett has 3,857 passing yards and 36 passing touchdowns this season. The Orange secondary has been struggling the last two games and that could be a result of the defensive line not putting pressure on the quarterbacks. Over the last two games the rowdy box of the Orange only have three sacks. Prior to those two games the Orange were top five in the NCAA with 33 sacks this season. In order to win this game, Williams believes putting pressure on Pickett and not missing sacks will help them win.
The Orange face against Pitt in the Dome at 7:30p.m. on Saturday. Syracuse will honor their seniors after the game for Senior Day regardless of the outcome of the game, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. A much needed win can sum up the weight of this opportunity for the Orange.
Win and you’re in. Lose and you’re out.