Well, the fans came through. ">
Well, the fans came through. ">

Nickname this player

As one of the smarter players on the team, Shaud Williams should have known better. Last week during media interviews someone asked him if he had a nickname. "No, I'll let y'all provide me with one," was his diplomatic reply. <br><br>Well, the fans came through.

Presented with a list of possible nicknames following Tuesday's practice, Williams just shook his head and laughed.

Shaudacious, Shaucking Shaud, Shot Williams (because he's shot out of a cannon), Shaud "THE MAN" Williams...

"Whoa!" was his initial reaction.

"Winner" Williams, because he ain't nothing but a winner. "That one's historical," Shaud commented.

Shaud the Lightning Rod, Sugar Shaud Williams, Hot Rod Shaud, Little Big Man, "I saw the movie," he said. "Not bad."

S-TRAIN, Heisman candidate (no flashy nicknames, just flashy performances), SKRAP E (he never quits), Shaud "Bull" Williams, SuperShaud, "Oh, my goodness," was his comment, shaking his head.

Shinin' Shaud, Shaud-gun, "Brodie would like that one."

Shaud Williams has led the Tide in rushing every game this season, winning conference Player of the Week honors twice in three weeks. (GettyImages)

"Shaud-have-played-him-more-last-year" Williams, "That one might have worked the first three games."

The Incredible Heart (heart, not hulk, get it?), RoughShaud (because he runs roughshod over defenses), the Texas Tornado, "I am from Texas."

"We traded Fraud for Shaud, and got the better deal." Predictably, the always diplomatic Williams had no comment on that one.

The Pinball Wizard (because he bounces off tacklers), "It was a little before my time, but I remember the song," Williams said.

The Sandman, "because he slides through defenses like sand through your hand," Williams read off the list, chuckling to himself at the suggestions.

Actually, though it's hardly inspirational, Williams already has a nickname among his teammates. "They call me ‘SD,'" he related. Why? "Because when I first got here there were two Williamses, me and Shaun Williams. On his jersey it said ‘Sn Williams,' on mine it was ‘Sd.' That's really the only nickname I had."

In college maybe, but Williams was one of the top prep running backs in the state of Texas. What about then?

"They called me ‘TD' in high school, but it didn't stand for ‘Touchdown'," Williams explained. "It stood for ‘The Difference'. One of my assistant coaches gave me that my sophomore year.

"When I first heard it, I was like ‘Touchdown, everybody uses that.' But he said, ‘No, The Difference.' It's a good enough nickname, but you have to explain it afterwards."

"A lot of the nicknames on this list are okay, but you have to explain some of them. Use liner notes at the end, I guess."

By now every Tide fan knows Shaud's story. Easily the most "experienced" running back in the history of college football, during his career Williams has played for five (count ‘em, five) head coaches. And he's learned as many offensive systems.

When he transferred to Alabama in 2001, by rule of course Williams was forced to sit out the season. He spent those first few months getting acquainted with his new team and soaking up Crimson Tide tradition.

An impressive and articulate young man, last year Williams often accompanied quarterback Tyler Watts on trips to local schools, where the two talked to youngsters about staying out of trouble and the importance of education.

Since taking over for the injured Ahmaad Galloway last season, Williams has established himself as one of the top backs in the SEC.

Back then he loved to tease Tyler, telling people that Watts was Crimson royalty and that he was just along for the ride.

This year, it's Shaud's turn.

"Some people tell me that, but I still don't really believe it," Williams said.

There are even "Shaud sightings" on the Internet, where appreciative fans relate their personal encounters with the diminutive tailback. "My family found ourselves on an elevator with Shaud last weekend. He was really nnice to my wife and great with our kids," the poster related.

"Gosh!" was the only response Williams could muster, when told of the message board post.

At this point our interview was interrupted as three young boys wandered up. "Hey, Shaud! Hey, Shaud!"

"Hey buddy, y'all doing all right?" was Williams' quick response.

"This is my best friend. I wanted him to meet you," the youngster continued.

"Y'all doing all right? Are you having fun?"

"I made one field goal in my game," the boy bragged to Williams.

The easy banter continued for a moment, with Williams making sure he shook hands with all three youngsters as they left. Shaud may not be a football god, but hero status among Alabama fans is impossible for even the ultra-humble Williams to deny.

Easily one of the most popular players on the team, fans young and old swarm Williams everywhere he goes. Having been named SEC Offensive Player of the Week two times this year already (out of only three games), Williams is obviously a premier athlete. But fans love him because of his personal story.

After leading Alabama in rushing yardage last season, Williams could have gone anywhere he wanted to play his final year of football. Terms of Bama's NCAA probation guaranteed that. But the Texas native chose to stay at Alabama.

As he pointed out, if you can just be patient enough to let life play itself out, sometimes bad situations work out for the best. "I didn't want to go anywhere else," Williams said. "This is my family now. I'm real close with a lot of the guys on the team. I wouldn't leave them for all the money in the world. This is my family."

"I came in with the class of 2001," Williams continued. "They were all freshmen and I was a junior. I was like the big brother of that class, just because I was older. I like being here."

Combine being at Alabama (with all the extensive media coverage that entails) with an excellent running back, and you get a predictable result. ESPN maintains a website, VoteHesiman.com, and as of this morning, guess who was ahead with 12, 847 votes and 26.8 percent of the ballots?

Shaud Williams.

With Williams, humility is not an act. And a national campaign for the "Hypeman Trophy" is the last thing he'd wish on his team. But what is a Heisman candidate except an offensive player having a big season (quarterbacks and running backs preferred), who gets some publicity and who plays for a team that's on television--a lot.

"That is very true," Shaud acknowledged. "That's what the Heisman Trophy is to a T."

"You have to be fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time," Williams continued. "Things have to go your way. That's really all it is. Look at Carson Palmer last year. At the beginning of the year, you didn't really hear a lot about Carson Palmer. But he kept producing; USC was playing on TV; and they were winning.

Shown scoring a touchdown versus Kentucky, Williams has been called Bama's "security blanket" by Head Coach Mike Shula, a player the coaches always want to have on the field. (Associated Press)

"There you have it. There's your Heisman Trophy winner."

Given a chance to support their favorite player, Tide fans are surfing to ESPN's website and voting in droves. "That's nice," Williams said. "Alabama fans are great. They're the best."

Williams paused for a moment, thinking about the process. "It would be nice to be considered, just for the fans," he said. "If I was ever fortunate enough to win that kind of award, it would be great just because of the fans. They're so great. They're always there to support you. They just love Alabama football with a passion.

"It would be an honor to win--but for the fans, as well as for my teammates and my coaches."

And what about the nickname?

"It would have to be either ‘S-Train' or ‘RT,'" Williams replied. "'RT,' ‘Rock Toter.' I like that one."

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