Williams 2.0? Evan arrives to Oregon ready to 'ramp things up a notch'
What does a team do after losing its leading tackler? If you're the Oregon Ducks, you replace him with his brother.
Evan Williams was never supposed to end up in Eugene.
After his breakout 2021 season with Fresno State, the draft seemed like a likely destination for a safety who tallied 90 tackles, three interceptions and generated plenty of buzz with scouts who saw a high-to-mid-round draft pick despite playing outside the Power 5.
But of course, Evan is a Williams. And things haven’t always gone to plan for the family. Just like brother Bennett, whose own 2021 breakout at Oregon was stymied by a leg injury, fate struck Evan a blow in 2022 with a knee injury that shelved him for a month.
And that changed everything.
“If he had the same type of year, this year, as he had as a junior, he was going to come out for the draft,” said Dani Slavin, Evan’s mother. “In fact, we were sort of planning like, ‘Well, that's gonna be weird, we're gonna have two kids preparing for the draft at the same time.’”
That would have been cool, Bennett admits. He’s been preparing for the draft for the last month at the California Strength program with 11 other NFL Draft hopefuls, including former Oregon teammate Ryan Walk in Los Gatos. And he knows how hard Evan has worked for this. It pains him to admit, but his younger brother has always been the harder worker, using his slightly smaller frame and underdog status as a driving force.
“I think that just fuels him,” Bennett said.
However, neither Bennett nor Dani or the Ducks are too upset about how things have played out. Because while the Ducks are losing a team-leading 72 tackles in one Williams, they’re now replacing him with the other.
And Bennett has a secret about Evan:
“He might even have a little more athleticism than me, to be honest,” Bennett said.