In the first practice since spring break, Missouri sophomore defensive end Tre Williams sported sweats and a sling instead of a helmet and shoulder pads. Williams had surgery on an injured left labrum over the break and will miss the remainder of the spring.
“He had an injury a couple practices ago,” head coach Barry Odom said, adding that he wasn’t aware of any previous injury. “It needed to be fixed, and now’s the time to do it.”
A team spokesman said that it had been nagging Williams for a while and that the procedure was done to prevent it from becoming more serious. Mizzou’s team physician, Dr. Pat Smith, conducted the surgery, and Associate Athletic Director of Sports Medicine Rex Sharp will put together the rehab program.
“Pat Smith did a great job on the surgery, Rex will do a tremendous job on rehabbing him, and Tre will eat it up and do a great job,” Odom said. “He’ll be ready when we start back in June, he’ll be full speed ahead.”
Former Missouri defensive linemen Charles Harris and Markus Golden also suffered labrum injuries while they were Tigers. Odom said they reached out to Williams after his surgery and delivered a simple and straightforward message: “This is a minor thing. Get going.”
In the meantime, Missouri will move a couple guys from the interior to the outside to account for Williams’ absence. Odom named sophomore tackles Akial Byers, Jordan Elliot, and Caleb Sampson as players who could potentially make the switch.
“I think that will serve us well moving forward,” Odom said. “You don’t ever want to count on a bunch of new guys coming in as freshmen to fill in and be that guy on the edge.”
The defensive line is arguably Missouri’s strongest and deepest unit on the defense, especially on the interior, but Odom hasn’t allowed that to let him get comfortable. “If you ever sit back and think, ‘Man, we’re there,’ from our depth standpoint, that never happens,” he said. “We could lose two more guys tomorrow.”
Williams recorded 20 tackles, four tackles for loss, and three sacks in 10 games in 2017. He’s shown promise, but his ability to stay healthy will determine his productivity going forward.