Headed to Houston

Trevardo Williams standing over sack victim

Defensive end Trevardo Williams and tight end Ryan Griffin were both drafted by the Houston Texans on Saturday. And that meant Connecticut was mentioned as a draft pick's university five times over the last two days. That's a school record. It had never happened before.

Trevardo Williams lives for the hunt, that moment he can chase down his unprotected prey and record another quarterback sack.

He left Connecticut as the school's all-time leader in sacks with 30.5 in his four-year college career. And now that Williams knows he has a home in the NFL, he must be champing at the bit. There must be one NFL quarterback he is pumped about bringing down to the turf.

So we asked the Bridgeport product if he could pick a victim for his first NFL sack.

"I haven't put any thought into that," Williams said Saturday after the Houston Texans selected him in the fourth round. "But probably one of the fastest quarterbacks, just to shut them down and show the world how quick I am as an athlete. Someone like Cam Newton or RG3, one of those guys."

Luckily for Newton and Robert Griffin III they don't need a new protection plan immediately because neither team is scheduled to play the Texans in 2013. But there will be other QB targets for Williams, who played defensive end for the Huskies but might line up at outside linebacker in the NFL.

"I'm not sure what they have in store for me," Williams said. "Wherever they have their [need], I'm ready. I have the ability to play either position."

One day after teammates Dwayne Gratz, Sio Moore and Blidi Wreh-Wilson were selected seven picks apart in the third round, Williams was given his license to sack in the NFL on the 27th pick of the fourth round and the No. 124th selection overall. And about three and half hours later tight end Ryan Griffin, Williams' former UConn teammate, became his future teammate with the Texans.

Griffin, snubbed and uninvited to the NFL Combine, was drafted by Houston with pick No. 33 in round six. He was pick No. 201 overall.

Williams and Griffin had some individual battles in practice over the last four years.

"Usually when he was on my side, we'd have a back come help me out because he's such a load to handle off the edge," Griffin said. "We've gone at it. We've had some battles. I'm looking forward to some more. He's an explosive athlete. It's going to be fun."

The NFL measured Williams at 6-1 and 241 pounds with an arm length of 32 ¼ inches.

"He's a high-motor, high-intensity defensive end," analyst Charles Davis said on the NFL Network when Williams was taken. "He's going to be on his feet at the next level. I see him as an outside linebacker who play in space."

Of course, speed is the thing that made Williams attractive to the scouts. Williams was born in Jamaica and moved to Connecticut when he was 9. Before focusing on football, he was a track champion at Canterbury School in New Milford.

"[The NFL] has always been in the back of my mind," Williams said. "I believe in myself. I know I have the ability to be a great athlete. I believe I'm a good athlete. And growing up, I felt like I had the opportunity and skill to pursue this next level. Coming to college and playing against Division I athletes was when I realized I could continue pursuing playing at the next level."

Williams said he thought his UConn teammates would be drafted before him, so it didn't get him down. Waiting until the third day of the draft didn't diminish the moment for him.

"I was amazed, I was thrilled, I was excited," he said of getting the call from Houston. "It was just a big relief hearing my name being called. I had the jitters. Now I just back to normal."

Gratz went to Jacksonville with the No. 64 pick overall. Moore followed at No. 66 to the Oakland Raiders and Wreh-Wilson landed with the Tennessee Titans at No. 70. UConn had four players taken in 2009 and 2011, but that school record now has been broken.

"I'm proud of my guys," Griffin said when asked about five UConn players being drafted. "We had a disappointing couple of years [consecutive 5-7 seasons] but, if anything, this is nice. It's good to know that the guys' hard work paid off."

Moore will be toiling in the AFC West but the other four will be divisional rivals in the AFC South. Houston won the division last season with a 12-4 record, followed by Indianapolis, Tennessee with six wins, and Jacksonville just two.

Williams said the four defensive teammates all made themselves better athletes at UConn by being rivals and competitors.

"But we'll always be teammates at heart," he said.

Wreh-Wilson laughed Friday night when asked about becoming a divisional rival with Gratz, his former mate in the UConn secondary.

"And Darius Butler, too," Wreh-Wilson said of the Indianapolis Colts defensive back who was a second-round pick in 2009. "I've looked into it already."

The South better brace itself. The Connecticut invasion has begun.

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