"Touched the door first" were the first words out of Josh Williams' mouth when he and Davis Tull arrived at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga media relations office for an interview Wednesday.
Those four words probably explain why the two UTC defensive ends laughed when, a little later, they were asked, "How competitive are you guys with each other?"
"There's some competition, but in the weight room I'm going to take Josh down -- and he knows that," Tull said, drawing a laugh from Williams.
So where does Williams take down Tull?
"In everything, honestly," Williams said, drawing a snort from Tull.
Tull told a story that may best sum up how they operate, and might also show why they're one of the best end duos in the Southern Conference.
A few weeks ago, on a Friday night before a game, they were waiting for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting to get started. Spur of the moment, Tull decided to drop and do 50 pushups. Of course that meant Williams had to follow suit.
They didn't stop at 50.
"I start my 50 and J's like, 'I'm going to get 75,'" Tull said. "We kept going until we hit about 300."
"That's the kind of thing we just do," Williams said.
And that kind of thing makes defensive line coach Marcus West very, very happy. West said he doesn't have to spend too much time coaching his dynamic duo.
Williams, a senior, is UTC's all-time sack leader with 22.5. Tull, a redshirt sophomore, leads the SoCon with eight this season and is up to 13 in 18 career games.
The Mocs also have a quality third end in redshirt sophomore Zack Rayl, as well as two true freshmen they love (and are redshirting) in Keionta Davis, from Red Bank, and Vantrell McMillan.
"What I try to do is tell Vantrell and Keionta and the younger guys, just jump under those guys," West said. "The coaching is over for those guys; they coach themselves and they work and they know the stuff to do to get better."
Williams was a preseason All-American and has played well this season, heada coach Russ Huesman said, though statistically he has only one sack and three tackles for loss. Tull, meanwhile, is first in the SoCon with his sacks and his 9.5 tackles for loss.
The players who put in the work, Huesman often has said, are the ones who show up big in games. Tull and Williams push each other to put in the work, and again and again it shows up on the field.
Today is "Take a Kid to the Game" day, a promotion by the NCAA in which fans 14 and under will receive a free ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket. ... UTC also will be conducting a canned food drive for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. Fans who bring three canned goods will receive a voucher for an $8 ticket.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...