At 5-8, 189 pounds, Shaud Williams doesn't intimidate anyone when they first take a glance at him. But once he gets the ball up the middle, he's quite a load to bring down. Once he gets the ball in the open field, you can usually blow him a kiss goodbye.
Williams, a transfer from Texas Tech, rushed 23 times for 160 yards in the Tide's win over Hawaii. It was a season high for Williams, and a season high for a Tide runner. His efforts in the final game put him atop the Tide leader board in rushing, as he finished the year rushing 130 times for 921 yards and five touchdowns, for an amazing 7.1 yards per carry. His longest run came on the opening play from scrimmage in the Arkansas game, where he took it 80 yards for a touchdown. Williams was also fourth on the team in receiving, with 21 receptions for 228 yards.
"What a find and what a contribution he has made to this team," former coach Dennis Franchione said after the Hawaii game.
Competition, however, isn't over yet for Williams this year. When he returned to Tuscaloosa, he planned to move his skills to the baseball diamond.
An 11th round draft pick out of high school by the Atlanta Braves, Williams played outfield at Texas Tech. "I talked to Coach Wells (Bama's head baseball coach) and he told me to come out there as soon as I got back from Hawaii," Williams said. "I miss that baseball atmosphere. I just miss being around the game of baseball."
Williams noted that he has already made many friends on the baseball team, and named Allen Rice, Taylor Tankersley, Brian Reed, and Spencer Pennington as guys he's gotten to know better.
Baseball coach Jim Wells always welcomes athletes from other sports to try and play baseball, but he has always said that while a player usually has no problems picking up the signals and playing defense, hitting is usually the biggest adjustment a player has to make.
If his moves in football are any indication of his ability, Williams should have a chance to be a strong base-stealing threat for the Tide in 2003.
Williams scored the Tide's first touchdown of the Hawaii game, a one-yard run in the second quarter. He had a 40-yard run that put the Tide in good field position later in the second quarter, although the Tide got no points from it. His 41-yard dash in the fourth quarter set up the Tide's final score, a 26-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Watts to Sam Collins.
"I don't even know how many yards it was," Williams said. "It really doesn't matter. It meant a lot to me that I could help send these seniors out on a win and on top."
The football season is over, although deep down inside, Williams wishes it was still going. Because in a normal year the Tide would have played against Georgia in last Saturday's SEC Championship game as a result of winning the Western Division.
"We wished we could have keep going, but we just have to carry this momentum into next season," Williams said. "The seniors left us with such a foundation, we just have to build on. Any Division 1 football player knows that the whole season is a grind and its tough. You always want a break but deep down inside you don't ever want it to be over."
EDITOR'S NOTE: As a rising senior, Williams has the option of transferring this season to another Division 1a school outside the SEC without sitting out a season. He is from Texas, and he did come to Alabama largely because of the previous staff. However, so far Williams has given no indication he intends to leave. As the returning starter at tailback, convincing Williams to stick it out in Tuscaloosa would obviously be a top priority for the new staff.