|Contest winner now kicking for No. 6 Texas Tech|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 29 October 2008 12:45|
Six weeks later he'll be out there wearing the black-and-red home uniform of No. 6 Texas Tech, possibly kicking to beat top-ranked Texas in a game that will move the winner a step closer to playing for a national championship.
Williams probably wasn't thinking about such a scenario when he signed up for a field goal contest while strolling into the stadium to watch Texas Tech play Massachusetts in September. When his name was picked, the sophomore hopped onto the artificial turf and, using a kickoff tee, easily hit a 30-yarder between quarters.
The fans went wild, and Mike Leach noticed. Leave it to the pirate-loving, Churchill-reading Texas Tech coach to send a staff member into the stands looking for a kicker. Two days later, Williams was on the team.
there and popped the thing in front of everybody,'' Leach said. ``What got our attention is he didn't take any extra steps and it went straight up.''
That was nothing compared to his debut in a game. Williams was 9-of-9 on extra points in Texas Tech's 63-21 rout of then-No. 19 Kansas last weekend. Leach said none of those compare to the contest kick, which came when the Red Raiders (8-0) had already missed two extra points in three games.
``It's not like he warmed up,'' Leach said. ``He wasn't up there in the stands with some little kicking net and a remedial shoe and all that stuff.''
Leach, who wouldn't let Williams talk to reporters this week, hasn't ruled out using him for field goals.
Williams' high school coach, Mike Sneed, is surprised Leach hasn't already decided to expand Williams' role.
``Whenever they said he was going to be the extra-point kicker I said, 'Well, they'll start out with that but he'll be kicking the field goals and kickoffs at some point,''' said Sneed, who coached Williams at Weatherford in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before moving to a Houston school.
Sneed recalls two key field goals by Williams in a win over rival Mineral Wells in 2005, including a 49-yarder that tied the game.
``I think it would have been a 59-yard field goal,'' Sneed said. ``He was always a very, very solid kicker and a lot of it, I think, was his soccer background.''
Weatherford, a city of 25,000, are riveted by the story line but not surprised. Willliams was a standout in soccer and football and sometimes played wide receiver for Sneed.
``We're all just talking about how amazing the story is,'' said Philip O'Neal, athletic director for Weatherford schools. ``It's the chatter around town.''
Williams walked on at Division II Tarleton State but never kicked in a game before moving on to Texas Tech to be a just student.
Since Williams wasn't recruited by Tarleton State or on scholarship there, the NCAA waived a rule requiring players to sit out a year when transferring to Division I schools. He never accepted the year of free rent he won through the kicking contest, so that eligibility question was moot.
Leach called Williams ``a genuine 12th man right out of the stands.'' The coach said college campuses probably have plenty of talented students who played high school sports but aren't recruited.
``Somebody on a campus can kick. Somebody on campus can snap, and so it goes,'' he said. ``Sometimes you got to turn over some stones.''
Tech has relied on walk-on kickers before. Robert Treece (2001-2002) and Alex Trlica (2004-2007) were both walk-ons who ended up playing significantly. Treece made all 97 of his extra points, and Trlica hit all 233 of his. Trlica was 43-of-73 on field goals.
But none of those guys got noticed the way Williams did.
y the time Williams started kicking last week, freshman scholarship kicker Donnie Carona and senior walk-on Cory Fowler were up to six missed extra points combined. One of the misses put the Red Raiders at risk of losing in overtime to Nebraska before the defense saved the game with an interception.
Carona and Fowler also missed half of their eight field-goal attempts, another reason the door opened for Williams.
``What would it be like to see one of your former players win a national championship and get a national championship ring?'' Sneed asked rhetorically. ``If they can beat Texas, I think that they can run the table.''