Connor Williams hasn’t always been considered the best offensive tackle in college football.
Two years ago, when Williams arrived on the 40 Acres as a freshman, he didn’t do so as a four or five-star recruit. The junior offensive tackle was just the No. 75 ranked tackle in the nation, per 247sports.
Since then, Williams has come a long way in two seasons with the burnt orange. He was named a consensus first team All-American in 2016 and is ranked as the No. 10 best returning player in the country according to Pro Football Focus. And when his time in Austin is complete, Williams is projected to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.
But despite all the accolades, Williams said national recognition isn’t his top priority.
“I try to avoid it because that’s not my focus,” Williams said. “My focus is this season and my focus is to go out and be able to play with my teammates and play the best game I can for my teammates.”
Williams has enjoyed plenty of personal success with the Longhorns. But on a team-level, Texas hasn’t delivered. The Longhorns have yet to reach a bowl game with Williams, sporting back-to-back 5–7 campaigns.
“It’s definitely eye-opening,” Williams said. “Because the players came to Texas came here to win. They came here to hold trophies, and for us not to do that it’s a very eye-opening experience. We must be doing something wrong, so we’re trying to figure it out.”
As the Longhorns try to chip away at the residue that three-consecutive losing seasons brings, there is another stat nearly just as haunting: Texas has not seen an offensive lineman selected in the NFL Draft since 2008. Almost a decade.
It’s almost guaranteed that Williams will put an end to that streak, but he isn’t the only player on the unit who’s benefited from playing alongside Texas’ stellar left tackle. Williams’ mentality seems to be contagious amongst the offensive line.
“We feel like a family,” Williams said. “We can come to each other about anything. We can be real with each other. If someone is not going 100 percent you can get on them and you know that the whole O-line is going to have your back... It’s not personal we just want to be the best we can.”
The national coverage and NFL Draft talk surrounding Williams won’t subside during the season. But that doesn’t bother Williams. He’s focusing on a singular goal. After two underwhelming years, Williams is focused on getting Texas’ offensive back on track.
“I feel like we’re finally getting our confidence,” Williams said. “I feel like we’re finally getting our swagger, our little strut. I like it. We’re taking control.”