Amid the chaos that courted the 2003 NFL Draft, Oklahoma State defensive lineman Kevin Williams found himself in the national limelight.
The shy, humble player isn't one to crave attention, but when he became the ninth-overall pick by Minnesota Saturday, the attention and the controversy surrounding the Vikings' choice was soon the talk of the National Football League.
The Vikings, who were set to take the seventh pick, were working out a deal to trade down when the clock expired. Both the Jaguars and Panthers immediately sent their picks to the podium, hoping to steal the thunder away from the Vikings who had forfeited their seventh slot.
But, the Jags and Panthers didn't nab the apple of the Vikings' eye, and Williams became the ninth pick in the first round. With that, the OSU defensive star also became the first Cowboy since R.W. McQuarters to go in round one, and the first defensive lineman from the school to be taken in the first round since Leslie O'Neal was swiped up by San Diego in the 1986 opening round.
Williams said he knew Minnesota had an interest on him, but it didn't bother him that the clock was winding down. The newest addition to the Viking squad said he wasn't really nervous as the seconds were ticking away.
"That was kind of out of my hands," Williams said in Sunday's press conference in Minneapolis. "I was just sitting there waiting like any other guy. I was happy they selected me and I'm very happy to be a Viking."
The controversy resulting from the seventh-to-ninth fiasco now falls upon the Minnesota payroll department. There is a substantial pay decrease between the two draft spots.
"We knew he was our guy all along," Vikings head coach Mike Tice told ESPN analysts Saturday.
And with that statement from Tice, Williams' agent is said to be bargaining for a seventh-pick paycheck for his client.
"I am very proud of him," said Williams' OSU teammate LaWaylon Brown. "I hope he gets the money he deserves and I think he will. Kevin is very mature and he has handled this very well so far. But what it comes down to is what you do in the pads, and he'll prove that."
Williams has inherited No. 93, the jersey number of former Viking defensive tackle John Randle. Randle started his professional career at Minnesota in 1990, before moving on to Seattle in 2000.
"He is certainly going to add something to our inside pass rush immediately," Tice told the press Sunday. "He is also able to spell Kenny Mixon on the left side. We have big plans, big plans for Kevin."
Williams, a monster on the field and a quiet guy off, said he is still in amazement about the whirlwind of events the past two days.
"Actually, I was like, ‘Did they just call my name?' It was unbelievable, just too good to be true. I don't think it has really set in on me yet, but once I get back home and around my family I think it'll really set in."
Williams was an All-Big 12 Conference first-team pick by the Associated Press and the league's coaches, and started all year for the Cowboys at right defensive tackle.
Williams recorded 61 tackles — 49 solos — and tied for the team lead with seven sacks for minus 49 yards while leading OSU with 14 stops for losses totalling 66 yards.
Williams' selection as a top-10 draft pick came as no surprise to the Cowboy coaching staff.
Speaking as though he could see into the future, OSU coach Les Miles sang the defensive tackle's praises on Oct. 19.
"Kevin Williams showed today why he is one of the elite in the country at his position," Miles said after OSU's historic win over Nebraska. "I think a lot of people are going to know his name by tonight."
In the 24-21 victory, Williams had 10 tackles — nine solos — sacked Cornhusker quarterback Jamaal Lord for an 8-yard loss and brought down tailback Dahrran Diedrick for minus 5 yards. His performance earned him Big 12 Player of the Week honors.
Williams was also selected as the 2002 Houston Bowl Defensive Player of the Game, after he recorded seven tackles — six solos — with three sacks for minus 15 yards, four stops for losses of 18 yards and a pass deflection.
The Cowboys may have lost quality defensive linemen to graduation in Williams, LaWaylon Brown and Kyle Beck, but the 2003 recruiting season was kind to Miles' staff.
OSU welcomed six new defensive lineman on signing day.
One of the players OSU defensive line coach Karl Dunbar sought the most was highly-touted defensive tackle Xavier Lawson-Kennedy from Duncanville, Texas.
Lawson-Kennedy said that Williams' success in the orange-and-black is one of the main reasons he was enamored with the Cowboys.
"One of the reasons I picked Oklahoma State out of every other college in the country is because I want to see what coach Dunbar can do with me, just by what he did with Kevin Williams in the short amount of time he had Kevin Williams," Lawson-Kennedy said while watching the Cowboys' final spring practice April 11. "I can't wait to see what he can do for me, working with me in a longer period of time and working with me from day one. The way he built up Kevin Williams and sent him on to be a top 15 draft pick, that intrigues me. I hope that I can follow that same path, and I know coach Dunbar is the one that can help me accomplish that."
Lawson-Kennedy said he hopes to give Cowboy fans the same source of excitement that Williams provided when he took the turf at Lewis Field.
With the ambitious attitude that Lawson-Kennedy brings to the Cowboy football table, Oklahoma State fans might have another top-10 pick in the making.
"I want to be just like him, and I am going to work at that," the high school recruit said. "I want to be another Kevin Williams — he has set really high standards, but the sky's the limit."
Williams not only has the respect and admiration of younger players like Lawson-Kennedy, but also among those who have already made a name for themselves in the pros.
Cory Chavous, Viking cornerback, said Saturday on ESPN that Williams' will be a star for Minnesota in a short time.
"Give him three years," Chavous said. "Kevin Williams will be in the Pro Bowl in three years."