A native of Andrews, Texas, Shaud Williams originally signed with Texas Tech. But the then TCU staff also recruited the swift running back. And when the Red Raiders changed offenses his second year, forcing him to switch to wide receiver, Williams followed Dennis Franchione to Alabama.
Given that history, he understands intellectually that Bama fans would worry about losing him to Texas A&M. But emotionally the idea is foreign to him. "Alabama is a second home to me now," Williams stated firmly. "It's where I want to finish up my career."
One of the most widely-liked members of the Tide squad, Williams talked about the bond that has formed among his teammates. "I've made friendships there in Alabama that really mean a lot to me. They're important.
"Those guys are my family now. There is no way that I could ever walk away from them after everything that they've done for me."
After transferring to The University in August of 2001, Williams sat out his first season in Tuscaloosa. But this year the fleet tailback with the quicksilver moves quickly became a fan favorite. "I never expected that," he admitted, speaking of his popularity with Alabama fans. "But I can honestly say that it's been a great experience. I wouldn't want to play for any other team in the world."
Averaging 7.1 yards per carry, Williams led the Tide in rushing. He caught 20 passes from his tailback and A-Back positions for 223 yards. Williams was the principal punt return man for most of the year, and he even dropped back to handle several kickoffs.
His 1,421 all-purpose rushing yards ranked fifth in the SEC and 45th nationally. "I had a lot of fun this past season," Williams said. "Alabama fans are truly the best fans in college football."
Mike Price will be the fourth head coach that Williams has played for in college. At first Williams admits that he was worried, wondering how he'd fit into the new offensive schemes. But not any more. "I've studied up on it and done my homework," Williams explained. "It looks like a good offense for someone like myself--as well as the other tailbacks that we have on the team.
"It should be a good offense for everybody--for the receivers and for the quarterbacks. It's going to be an offense that gets everybody the ball. That will be awesome."
During his more than 20 years as a head coach, Price has developed a reputation for wide-open offensive football. Utilizing one back most of the time, Price will throw the ball down the field, but he also will field an effective running attack.
This past season Williams was the Tide's fourth-leading receiver, making him ideally suited for a Mike Price offense. "They use their back a lot as a receiver out of the backfield," Williams related. "They throw him swing passes. I think my ability to catch the ball will help me out a lot. It will give me a chance to get on the field."
With his speed and quickness, Williams is most dangerous when attacking the edge of a defense. "Being used out of the backfield is something you almost salivate over--without a doubt," he said talking about the Washington State attack. "Any running back gets big-eyed when they see an offense like that. It's something that I'm really looking forward to. I think it's going to be a lot of fun."
Last season the Tide was fortunate to have numerous talented seniors, willing to provide leadership. But names like Tyler Watts, Jarret Johnson and Kenny King are gone now, and Williams understands what that means.
"I think it's going to be up to the seniors to help with the coaching transition," Williams acknowledged. "I'm really looking forward to it, and I'm sure the other seniors are as well. I haven't gotten a chance to talk to Coach Price yet. But I think we're all anxious to get back out there and get this thing on track. We want to show everybody that we're still going to be okay.
"Despite what we've been through, we're going to rise up, and Alabama football is going to be back on top again."
Like the rest of the Tide squad, Williams intends to enjoy what holiday he has left. But New Years Day afternoon, he has a date with his television set to scout out Alabama's new offense. "I'm going to watch the Rose Bowl--without doubt," he said. "I've studied and I've done my homework and I'll be watching closely.
"I'm going to watch that game from beginning to end, so I'll be able to give you a good scouting report."
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