3 PR for 96 yards, 1 TD; 1 FF
He’s been threatening all year as a punt returner, and finally, Dee Williams proved his worth as an elite return specialist for Tennessee football. Averaging 32 yards a punt return is impressive on its own, but what really stands out is the fact that Williams actually made the plays when the Vols needed him to make them.
Williams’ punt return touchdown was a 73-yard score, and it came in the second quarter with UT clinging to a 14-0 lead. They seemed to be in control, but at that point, anything could have happened, so this was the key play to help break the game open. In the second half, Williams had a 19-yard punt return to set up another UT touchdown.
However, what really put Williams up here is another random special teams play he made. In the second half, trailing 28-0, Vanderbilt caught Tennessee football off-guard by calling a fake punt on 4th and 6 from their own 29-yard line. Punter Matt Hayball took the snap and ran it 21 yards to the UT 50-yard line.
Williams, who was supposed to be the returner, ran up and hit Hayball, forcing a fumble that UT linebacker Nick Humphrey recovered near midfield. Bailing the Vols out of a special teams failure was beyond impressive, and big plays like that give him a spot on this list.