RB | Senior | University of Texas
Williams broke Tony Dorsett’s 22-year-old NCAA career rushing record and joined Earl Campbell to become the second Texas player to win the Heisman.
The 6-foot, 225-pound Williams was born in San Diego, Calif., where he prepped at Patrick Henry High. He was considered one of the top running backs in the country as a 1994 senior, when he rushed for 2,099 yards and 25 touchdowns. Williams left the West Coast and signed with Texas, citing the state’s love of football.
He began his career in Austin as a fullback in a freshman year that saw him break Campbell’s freshman rushing record with 990 yards and eight touchdowns on just 166 carries. As a sophomore, he rushed for 100 yards seven times and registered 1,272 yards and 12 TDs.
Williams broke out as a junior, leading the nation with 1,893 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns while finishing fifth in the 1997 Heisman vote. He entered 1998 as one of the front runners for the award and, also, within reach of Dorsett’s record.
Williams solidified his place in college football history with a dash to that record and the Heisman Trophy in 1998. Williams led Texas to a 9-3 record, set 21 NCAA records and received what was then the greatest percentage of first-place votes cast in Heisman history (43% of the 920 voters). Williams produced one of the finest seasons in college football history in 1998, rushing for 2,124 yards and 27 TDs. He also became the first-ever two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award and claimed the Maxwell and Walter Camp Foundation Player of the Year awards.
Texas officially retired Williams’ No. 34 jersey in a pregame ceremony prior to the Oklahoma State game on Sept. 30, 2000.
In the 1999 NFL draft, Mike Ditka and the New Orleans Saints stunned the sports world by trading their entire draft in 1999 and first and third-round selections in 2000 (to the Washington Redskins) for the right to select Williams with the fifth pick.
The selection of Williams marks the first time in NFL history that one player has been a team’s entire draft class.