All-Time Greatest – No. 33: Gary Williams

BuckeyeSports.com counts down the days until Ohio State's 2008 season opener with its list of the 50 greatest Buckeyes of all-time. The series continues today with No. 33: wide receiver Gary Williams.

Before Ohio State finally discovered the forward pass that led to such prolific receivers as Cris Carter, Joey Galloway, David Boston, Michael Jenkins and Ted Ginn Jr., there was Gary Williams.

Forming a lethal tandem with Doug Donley in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Williams was a speed-burner who benefited from the Buckeyes' switch from a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust mentality to one that moved the ball down the field in chunks.

Born Sept. 4, 1959, Williams was a three-sport star at Wilmington (Ohio) High School, earning all-state recognition in basketball, track and football – earning 11 total letters – for the Hurryin' Hurricanes.

He played center in basketball, ran the 400 meters in track and played nearly every position in football. In fact, during Art Schlichter's high school career at Miami Trace, he lost only one game and that was to Wilmington by a 6-3. Williams kicked two field goals in the contest to account for his team's points.

One year after Schlichter joined the Buckeyes, Williams was recruited by new head coach Earle Bruce. Once the two old high school adversaries got on the same team, they worked with one another to perfection.

With Donley on one side and Williams on the other, Schlichter had two of the speediest receivers in college football at his disposal. Donley was the incumbent leading receiver, and Williams had modest freshman and sophomore seasons. But he earned the reputation of being a money-in-the-bank receiver in crunch time.

He gathered in a 53-yard pass from Schlichter in the second quarter of the 1980 Rose Bowl, allowing the Buckeyes to tie Southern Cal 10-10 at the half. And the following year, he grabbed a 33-yard score from Schlichter as OSU ran out to a 20-7 lead over Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes couldn't hold for the win in either game.

As a junior in 1981, Williams exploded, becoming the first Ohio State receiver ever to grab 50 receptions in a single season. He also shattered the school mark for receiving yards, coming within just 59 of becoming the Buckeyes' first-ever 1,000-yard receiver.

During the Florida State game that season, Williams established new single-game marks with 13 receptions for 220 yards. Those records remained on the books until Boston caught 14 against Penn State in 1997 and Glenn racked up 253 receiving yards against Pittsburgh in 1995.

Despite the fact that Schlichter graduated after the 1981 season, Williams worked well with his successor and hooked up with Mike Tomczak to catch a team-leading 40 passes for 690 yards in 1982.

By the time he had played his last game in Scarlet and Gray, Williams held virtually every pass receiving record at Ohio State, including most career receptions (154) and most career receiving yardage (2,792), and was tied with Donley for most career touchdown catches (16).

Those records have all since been broken, but even with the more explosive OSU offensive attacks in recent years, he still ranks fourth in career receptions behind Boston (191, 1996-98), Carter (168, 1984-86) and Jenkins (165, 2000-03) and third in yardage behind Jenkins (2,898) and Boston (2,855).

There is one record that Williams owns that may never be equaled – 48 consecutive games with at least one reception.

And he saved some of his best performances for the biggest stages. In four bowl games during his career, Williams caught 17 passes for 367 yards (an average of 21.6 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.

Despite his numbers, a balky knee caused a drop in his stock as the 1982 NFL draft rolled around and Cincinnati took him with an 11th-round selection. He missed the entire '82 season, then saw action in eight games for the Bengals in '83.

Most of his playing time was on special teams and he never caught a pass for Cincinnati. His chronic knee problems forced him out of the game the following season.

Williams returned to his hometown following his football career and has remained largely out of the public eye since.

Yesterday: No. 34 Bobby Hoying

Tomorrow: No. 32


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