Reporting Shane Kitzman
Everybody loves Tremayne Williams.
Both on and off the record, his trainers, his teammates and his coach respect and revere the face of the Tommie football team.
“He’s our poster boy,” coach Glenn Caruso said during two-a-days last week at O’Shaughnessy Stadium.
It’s true – both proverbially and literally – as St. Thomas’ 2013 season schedule poster showcases the preseason All-American linebacker.
Most know the senior as the humble and stoic do-it-all defensive leader of the No. 2-ranked D-III football team in the nation — he tallied 10 tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery back in 2012.
But the 21-year-old’s also a cerebral electrical engineer, a motorcycle fanatic, and still takes notes during positional meetings.
Here are six things you need to know about the man teammates teasingly call Blade. And if you aren’t planning on watching the Tommies kick off the season against UW-Eau Claire at 1:10 p.m. Saturday in O’Shaughnessy Stadium in person, 830 WCCO’s bringing it to you live.
Williams channels Wesley Snipes — sometimes
“At the cookout we have to start camp, he was walking across the field with a fresh Mohawk, and had sunglasses on,” fellow star senior linebacker Harry Pitera recalled. “I leaned over to a guy and said, ‘Looks like Blade’s coming.’ I expected him to have dual swords on his back. That’s part of our linebacker group — everyone is good at taking jokes.”
The fact he owns a black and silver Cruiser Kawasaki Vulcan only adds to the lore.
Coaches wish they could engineer leaders just like him
“The day we moved out of the dorms, he was in the weight room putting up good weight,” Pitera said. “I wasn’t out there then. I was gassed. It speaks to his conditioning. He can do it all.”
Some of that inherent strength could be a product of twice placing in the top five at state while wrestling back in Appleton, Wis.
No red carpet awaited him as an incoming freshman
“Caruso said, ‘You got to work. It’s not going to be handed to you,’” Williams said. “I came in as fifth string, and I worked my way up to second string during my freshman year.
He’s been sold on the Caruso motto ever since.
“My high school coach also preaches pride,” Williams said. “They both believe hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
Summer 2013 was work, and working out
When he wasn’t training alongside Danny Rivers, who wrestled for Wisconsin and now owns Rivers Fitness, Williams was raising his electrical engineering game as an intern at Faith Technologies.
“I do layouts for different buildings for them,” he said. “People ask me all the time why I went into engineering. I love the problem solving aspect of it. It’s not the same thing all the time.”
Pitera credits Williams’ quiet confidence
And it’s spot-on. Williams doesn’t need to pipe up to lead. His on-the-field focus and devotion do the talking. And when asked about his solid stat line from 2012, he deflected.
“I play along some solid people,” he said. “I can’t take all the credit.”
And as for the preseason All-American honors, well, they’re useless to Williams.
“I’ve never really been into rankings,” he said, as he only discovers his awards when friends alert him to it. “They’re a compliment, but they’re something that I have to surpass. I want more than that.”
He lauds one person above all others
My mom (Brenda Butler) has always been the motivating factor in my life,” he said. “Her work ethic, drive and time management – she did it all raising my brother (Terrell) and I. She gave me the opportunity to play sports.”
Brenda’s still going the extra mile, all the way from eastern Wisconsin.
“She usually comes with my grandpa,” Williams said. “My whole family likes to get out here and come to nearly all of my home games.”