The Cadillac "Anxious" As Draft Day Approaches

Running back Carnell Williams talks about the upcoming NFL Draft and what the future holds.

Auburn, Ala.–-Thursday, April 21, Carnell Williams turns 23 years old. Saturday he expects to get the birthday present of a lifetime as one of the top selections in the 2005 NFL Draft in New York City.

Close to fulfilling his dream of playing in the NFL, Williams says that it's tough to sit and wait as the clock ticks down until his name is called.

"I would say I'm more anxious than nervous, but I am nervous," Williams says. "I'm very excited. This is a childhood dream that is about to happen. Sometimes I sit back and still can't believe what's going on. I'm ready for it."

The talk on television during ESPN's Sportscenter and on the radio for much of the last few weeks has been about both Williams and Ronnie Brown going in the first round and both possibly in the top five of the draft. While he said that he's keeping his fingers crossed that he'll go very early, he's not watching and listening to the reports. He said that's taken care of by a family member.

"I don't have to watch ESPN to find all that out because my momma keeps up with all that," Williams says. "She calls me just about every other day. ‘Son they've got you going here' or ‘they've got you going there.' I don't really keep up with that kind of stuff. I'm just here (home in Atalla) to be around some people and my mother."

Carnell Williams catches a pass and turns upfield during Auburn's Pro Day on campus in March.

A starter for much of his four seasons on the Plains, Williams rushed for 1,165 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and also added 21 catches for 152 yards on the receiving end of things as Auburn went undefeated and won both the SEC and Sugar Bowl Championships.

His running mate in the backfield was Brown. Despite sharing time all season, Brown rushed for 913 yards and eight touchdowns while adding 313 yards on 34 receptions. Both excelled in post-season workout sessions with NFL coaches and now have the chance to play big roles in the NFL beginning next season. Williams says having the chance to both be top draft picks is something they've been talking about and competing with since the end of last season.

"We're both very excited about that," Williams says. "Just about every time me and Ronnie get together we always discuss both of us possibly going in the Top 10. We definitely want to make that happen for the both of us.

"We've kind of got this competition going on," Williams adds. "Ronnie wants to go before me. I want to go before him. It's going to be exciting to see how things turn out. It's kind of looking like I don't have a prayer now. He feels like he's to the upper hand on me now, but I tell him it's not over yet."

They're not the only two first-rounders the Tigers are scheduled to have this time around as cornerback Carlos Rogers is considered a lock to be taken in the first 32 picks. Another player moving up the charts is quarterback Jason Campbell, whose stock has continued to rise since a Pro Day workout in March. Williams says he's happy to see Campbell getting some attention heading into Saturday.

"I'm just so happy for Jason," Williams says. "Me and Jason talk and Jason says ‘everybody is slipping on me talking about Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers,' but he feels like he's just as good as those guys. I feel the same way. Just to see teams talk about Jason as a potential first round guy, I'm very happy for Jason. I hope it happens and I feel like it's going to happen, too."

For now the future of the Auburn's seniors is difficult to read. While Brown and Williams are fighting to be the first back taken off the board, Williams says that not all of the same teams have talked with him in the last few weeks, but there are some teams he's excited about.

"A couple of teams that have shown a lot of interest are Chicago, Tampa Bay, the Houston Texans--those are just to name a few," Williams says. "Those are the ones that have caught my eye and have said they are into my style of running and that they would love to me to join my organization."

Up to 217 pounds from his playing weight of 204 pounds last season, Williams ran two sub 4.5 second times in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine earlier this year. Still people question whether he can get the job done because of his size.

"It's something I have been going through my whole life ever since I started playing football," Williams says. "‘He's a small guy' when I came to college. High school, ‘he's a small guy.' That's just added motivation for me to be the best. Once again folks are going to be wrong."

Only twice in Auburn history have the Tigers had two players drafted in the first round the same year, but that will surely change on Saturday. When it does Williams says that it will signal not the end of an era, but just the beginning of new era of Auburn football under Coach Tommy Tuberville.

"I just look at that as a honor," Williams says. "All of us guys have played together and came in together and have been through so much together. For us to have potentially four first-rounders, that is a credit to Coach Tuberville and his staff, the coaches and the Auburn people. That just goes to show what kind of place Auburn is. It could be a record, but I feel like with the young guys coming up there will be more first-rounders to come."


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