The junior linebacker had a career-high 20 tackles, 11 of which were solo efforts. Williamson became the first Wildcat since 2003 to reach the 20-tackle mark in a single game, the last being Chad Anderson with 21 against Georgia.
"Avery's a self made football player," head coach Joker Phillips said. "He's done an amazing job. Self made meaning he's made himself a physically fit guy in the weight room. He's made himself a good linebacker by film study, a guy that works really hard on the football field."
With Vanderbilt holding the ball for nearly 35 minutes and running 80 plays on Saturday, Kentucky defenders had ample opportunities to make plays, but it was Williamson that most often appeared around the ball. Thirteen of his tackles came after halftime and he forced a third-quarter fumble on a Jordan Rodgers run that was recovered by Khalid Henderson.
Williamson's 20-tackle effort only solidified his hold on the Southeastern Conference tackle lead, bringing his season total to 115. He is averaging 11.5 tackles per game.
"He's just a guy that plays his heart out," Phillips said. "You know, he's a guy that takes care of business off the field also. He's one of the leaders on the defense. I'm not surprised by anything that kid does."
He has dealt with a lot of pressure to produce all season since UK lost the SEC's top two 2011 tacklers - Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy - to the NFL after last season, but Williamson has consistently delivered at his middle linebacker spot. He has double-digit tackles seven times this season, including three straight.
As vital as his production has been to young defensive unit that has been beset by injury, his leadership has been even more important. Williamson has remained a consistent locker room presence during his team's struggles and will need to continue that as UK takes a bye week before trying to end an eight-game losing streak on Senior Day against Samford on Nov. 17.
"It's been stressful but it comes with the position that I got," Williamson said of his leadership role. "Everyone is depending on you. You just got to take it a day at a time and make sure you're on your 'A' game and hope that your teammates are behind you as well. All you can do is worry about what you have to do on your assignment and that is all I can do."
Williamson knows the momentum the team can build for next year and beyond with a strong finish and is going to make sure his teammates do too.
"You have to be a pro," Williamson said. "You have to just block out all the outside stuff and just keep working hard even when times are bad, you just have to keep working hard."