Oklahoma State head coach Les Miles and his newly formed staff were trying to put together a recruiting class after a little bit of a late start. They were working on the finishing touches when new running backs coach Tommy Robinson's wife suggested a favorite of hers at Fort Worth O.D. Wyatt High School where she was working as a counselor. This "Mrs. Robinson" was oh-so-wise when it came to the ways of recruiting. The Cowboys liked what they saw and brought in Darrent Williams for a visit, offered him a sholarship, and welcomed him to the family.
On Saturday, against 22nd-ranked Kansas State ,Williams, now a junior, set a Big 12 record in helping lead Oklahoma State to its latest landmark win over a respected conference foe as they held on to beat the Wildcats 38-34.
When Williams showed up as a freshman it didn't take long for him to show his abilities and his extreme self-confidence, two qualities that are a must for a successful cornerback. In two-a-days, Williams was not only covering veteran receivers, but talking some smack when he batted balls away or even better -- picked them clean. In one early practice that summer, Williams took on 6-3, 220-pound jumbo wide receiver Willie Young. Young was running a deep post route when Williams went way up to knock down the pass. Almost before the ball hit the ground, Williams was doing his best impersonation of an official signaling an incomplete pass.
Williams, like so many of the members in that first recruiting class, was pressed into duty playing in 10 of the 11 games. Because of injuries, he was pressed into duty as a starter in four of the Cowboys final six games. In the second to last game of the season at Baylor, Williams intercepted two Baylor passes and returned them both for touchdowns.
Just a week prior to the Kansas State win, Williams was one of the stars in the Cowboys' final non-conference win as he returned two punts for touchdowns. Both returns were spectacular, one for 78-yards the other 59-yards. Going into this year's game againste K-State, he had two interceptions.Williams plays with a flamboyant style that frustrates opponents as much as you might think, but his style and enthusiasm serves to fire up his teammates.
The battle with Kansas State was just Williams' kind of game. It developed early and resembled two heavyweight fighters alternately landing punches. One team would strike only to be answered by the other. The Cowboys opened up on their first drive that included a 49-yard strike down the sideline to Rashaun Woods and finished with a three-yard touchdown run by Tatum Bell, who would go on to rush for 143 yards and two scores. K-State countered at the end of the first quarter with a 23-yard screen pass from Ell Roberson to tailback Darren Sproles for a touchdown. It was 7-7 early in the second quarter when Williams struck as only he can.
On a first-and-10 play from the Kansas State 40, Ell Roberson dropped back to pass and tried to gun a deep route down the right sideline. The intended target was 6-5 James Terry, but Williams jumped the route and picked off the pass in front of a stunned Terry, who tried to make a tackle. Williams was off to the races and after going up field about 15 yards started his way across the field and then set sail down the north sideline and used his speed to complete the 63-yard return for a touchdown.
"I knew that if I made the first dude miss then it was going to be like a punt return," said Williams. "The I saw everybody flowing over to the sidelines and I was already on the sideline, so I knew the other side of the field was wide open. making that first guy miss is the key. If you make that guy miss then you can do anything."
"Hats off to Darrent Williams," said O-State head coach Les Miles. "He had a tremendous game. He has great big play potential in a number of ways. His interception for a touchdown was a great individual play."
For Williams it was the fourth interception of his career that he has returned for a touchdown -- a Big 12 record -- and Williams has a season and a half to improve on that mark.
How explosive is Williams? Well, a few minutes after his dramtic interception return for a touchdown, K-State punted and instead of letting Williams catch the punt, a K-State player took a head shot at the 5-9, 175-pound junior, and the Boone Pickens Stadium crowd of 46,087 held their breath before Williams jumped up and jogged off the field.
"The dude came up to me after the game and apologized and said he wasn't doing it on purpose," said Williams. "I'm pretty sure he was at the time, they were pretty frustrated. That's not going to hold me back, I'm not afriad of anything, unless they take me out of the game. It just knocked the wind out of me. I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't get a punt return today."
Then in the late third quarter just after Fields had hit Gabe Lindsay for a touchdown to make it 28-21 in favor of the Cowboys, Williams again struck for a game deciding play.
Roberson tried to squeeze a pass in on the sideline to wideout Antoine Polite only to see Williams again jump the route and literally take the ball away from the receiver. The interception set up the Cowboys at the Wildcat 34.
"It's a team game, there is no 'I' in team," said Williams. "I was just doing my part for the team."
"We've got some issues as far as turnovers, interceptions, obviously that was a factor," said K-State head coach Bill Snyder. "It's not always the quarterback's fault," added Snyder.
No, this time it was due in part to some fabulous playmaking ability by cornerback Darrent Williams.
Three plays later, tailback Tatum Bell went in from the 12-yard-line to make the score 35-21. A 50-yard field goal a little later by senior kicker Luke Phillips, who earlier had showed off his running talent on a nifty fake field goal, put OSU up 38-21. It was just enough to hold on as Kansas State rallied to make it 38-34 in the end.
Williams wasn't the only hero on defense, just the most noticeable. He finished with five tackles and a pass break up to go with his two interceptions. Defensive end Greg Richmond added eight tackles and a sack. Vernon Grant, who's open field tackling was so vital in holding Sproles and K-State to 146 yards rushing, had eight tackles. Linebacker Paul Duren and defensive end Khreem Smith had six tackles each and Smith added a sack and two tackles for a loss. Safety Jon Holland had six tackles too, and the other corner Robert Jones had five and an interception.
Lots of standout performances, but one performer, who for the second week in a row, stood out. Darrent Williams is a cornerback that just loves to be in the middle of landmark Oklahoma State conquests.