Last year it was Kendall Reyes. When the preseason awards were handed down, Reyes' name was always present, as it was on early season mock drafts. By April, he was a second-round pick of the Chargers and is expected to contribute immediately. This year's Reyes is defensive end Trevardo Williams, a pass-rushing specialist in the truest sense of the word.
A year ago, he registered 12.5 sacks, which was good for fifth in the nation. Heading into the 2012 season seven pounds heavier, Williams aims to improve on that mark. "I want to get 16 sacks," he told the Connecticut Post's Kevin Duffy recently.
"(Incoming freshmen) all have to be developed in my opinion, even the guys with a thousand stars behind their name," UConn defensive line coach Hank Hughes revealed to Duffy. "There aren't many ready-made guys. Was Trevardo one of them? Not really, but that's a credit to him and how hard he's worked."
A year ago, then-junior Jesse Joseph was the name most often mentioned after Reyes as the best Huskies defensive lineman. But injuries curtailed his 2011 season, and Williams seized the opportunity. Now he's primed to build off that effort and accomplish something really special in 2012. NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang listed Williams as the fifth-best NFL prospect on the Huskies' roster -- as a junior. Here's what Rang wrote in June:
"While obviously undersized, Williams' ability to wreak havoc on quarterbacks will earn him considerable attention from scouts. Williams emerged as one of the nation's most feared pass rushers last season, registering 12.5 sacks, including nine in the final five games. With 12.5 sacks over 12 games last season, Williams joined Houston Texans' first round pick Whitney Mercilus in being one of only two players in the FBS to average more than a sack per game. While he lines up at defensive end in UConn's scheme, to make it in the NFL Williams will have to prove that he has the flexibility, speed and instincts to handle the shift to outside linebacker."
But those are discussions for another time. For now, Williams' concerns are strictly with making the Huskies one of the conference's best defensive units, which is a distinct possibility.