Interview with former University of Tennessee DT Dan Williams

By Jared Cooper


SportsPowerWeekends.com founder/editor Jared Cooper caught up with former Tennessee standout and current Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Dan Williams to discuss his experiences at Tennessee and his memories of Neyland Stadium. Williams was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2009, and was a first-round selection of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Cooper: What are some of your favorite traditions at Tennessee home games?

Photo courtesy of GoVolsXtra.com

Williams: My favorite tradition would of course be the Vol Walk. Walking to the stadium with the fans greeting us and giving us high fives during the walk from the complex to the stadium. Also, in my book, running through the “T.” That is a big tradition and one of the reasons a lot of people go to Tennessee; it is a once in a lifetime feeling. Neyland Stadium has 110,000 fans screaming. It is crazy. 

Cooper: What is your most memorable experience at Neyland Stadium?

Williams: You would have to go back to 2007 when the South Carolina kicker missed wide right and that really helped us in our hunt to go to the SEC Championship Game. Also the Vanderbilt game that year – that year we went 7-0 at home – and it was two kicks, one was wide right and the other was wide left.

Cooper: Dan, how would you compare the experience of playing at Neyland Stadium to some of the SEC road stadiums you played in?

Williams: It is very loud. I played at Auburn and Alabama and it is right up there at the top with all of them. Playing on defense at Tennessee is crazy. The fans get loud and they’re causing false starts every game. Having all of those fans there makes it an incredible experience. You have people who have never been there look around and go “whoa, what is going on?”

I always tell Gabe (Watson) we have the real Big House. We have real fans. You have a lot of people but we make noise in Tennessee.

Compared to other SEC stadiums I will say Neyland is one of the loudest stadiums I have ever been in. I’d compare it to Alabama and Auburn, and Arkansas gets loud too. I never played at LSU, I missed that road trip, but hey, there is some time.

Cooper: What is the most hostile road SEC game you have ever played?

Williams: I would say at Kentucky. The reason it was the most hostile is because the last two years we went to Kentucky – in 2007 we went to five overtimes to get to the SEC Championship Game – and last year we can from behind to beat them. Those fans were mad because they were trying to break our 25-game winning streak against them. They were throwing beer and screaming, “we hate you Tennessee, go back home” and “wait until basketball season.” I think at Kentucky they take it personally, because every time we go in there and get a win they make sure to let us know what is on their minds.

Cooper: What are some of your favorite restaurants on campus?

Williams: I’d say where we would eat in Gibbs. That was our training table. On good days that was the best place on campus. A lot of us guys would go to The Strip and go to some places there. I would also like to get gyros. And of course I would get Chick-Fil-A, but I would put Gibbs over everything else.

Cooper: What were some of your favorite places to go and things to do in Knoxville?

Williams: We used to go to the movies off of Lovell Road. We used to just hang out with each other. We also used to go to The Strip, but mostly just hang out at each other’s houses.

Jared Cooper worked for the National Football League’s PR department for four years before creating SportsPowerWeekends.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@SportsPowerWknd) or contact him at Jared.Cooper@SPWtravel.com.

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