"I'm just grateful to the SEC office, our compliance office and the administration," he said. "It was tough, but I love UT. With all I've been through to get here -- it feels great. I'm excited to be wearing orange and playing for Coach Fulmer, Coach Chavis and my teammates."
Head coach Phillip Fulmer was ecstatic and said the entire team gave Williams a standing ovation upon hearing the news.
"It's wonderful to have him out there," the Vols coach said. "He's worked so hard to get himself here, and I'm excited for him as much as I am us.
"He's got to go to work now and prove his merit, but he's the type of young man who definitely will do that. And I personally want to say how much I appreciate our conference office and our administration."
Tennessee practiced for 90 minutes Friday afternoon at Haslam Field, after which Fulmer named Robert Ayers, Morgan Cox, Ramon Foster, Lucas Taylor and Ellix Wilson as the team's first set of game captains for 2008.
LONGTIME UT ATHLETICS DUO JOINS VOL NETWORK
Gus Manning and Haywood Harris, whose combined years of service to the University of Tennessee athletics department exceeds the century mark, are the two newest members of Vol Network football radio broadcasts this fall.
The dynamic duo, who have chaperoned and help teach a popular class at UT on the football program over the last few years, plays host beginning this season to a UT football history segment on the Vol Network's "Kickoff Call-In Show" called "Tennessee Football 101." Drawing on their years of experience with the UT athletics department, Manning and Harris will anchor the new feature highlighting a significant game or event in Tennessee's long and illustrious history each week.
"Tennessee fans appreciate history and tradition and Gus and Haywood are legendary institutions at the University of Tennessee," said Steve Early, general manager of IMG College/The Vol Network. "A close second to their combined century of service to UT athletics is their long-standing request to be on the Vol Network. They are an entertaining team and we think the network's listeners will enjoy hearing their great stories and memories about UT football this fall."
Manning and Harris have teamed recently to authored two books on Tennessee football and are currently working on a third. They host the longest running sports program in the country, "The Locker Room," which, in its 48th season, airs prior to every Tennessee football game on Vol Network flagship stations WIVK and The Sports Animal. While both semi-retired into advisory roles within the athletics department several years ago, they still maintain an office at UT and arrive for work every day.
Manning and Harris have been frequent guests on the Vol Network over the years, Manning even filled in as a color analyst on some football broadcasts back in the late 1960s, but this represents the first time the hall of famers have had a regular segment on the network and it realizes a lofty goal of theirs.
They are great examples that dreams can come true at any age.
The Kickoff Call-In Show begins Monday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time (3:30 Pacific), following a special edition of "Vol Calls" from the Rose Bowl at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.