Now, he'll have a statue to prove it. An eight-feet tall, 1,000-pound bronze statue commemorating Williams's Longhorn career will be unveiled in a ceremony prior to the Texas Spring Game April 1. Fittingly, it will be located next to the statue of Williams idol and fellow Texas Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell in the southwest corner of Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
"Words can't describe how honored I am," Williams said. "Wow, having a statue at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium is something I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams when I came here from San Diego. Texas was such a welcoming place, and with its unbelievable history and tradition, it's extra special to be a part of that. I'm just humbled and grateful to be recognized in such an amazing way by a school and city that has meant so much to me and my family and is a vital part of my life.
"I want to thank Coach Brown, DeLoss Dodds, President [William] Powers and everyone at Texas who helped make this happen with all of my heart. I know Joe Jamail, who has been so supportive of me and become a great friend and mentor, played a big role in this also, so I can't thank him enough. I also need to thank Coach [John] Mackovic for recruiting me, bringing me to this great school and coaching me for my first three years."
Texas head coach Mack Brown, who recruited Williams back to Texas for his senior year, saw the back's Heisman moment. Williams helped lead Brown's first team to a 9-3 mark — more than doubling the four-win season the previous year — and a Cotton Bowl victory in 1998.
"We're so proud of Ricky and everything he's accomplished," Brown said. "He is a special football player and an even better person. To me, this statue will represent everything that Ricky brought to this program; from his passion for football and life, to his infectious smile and positive energy. What he did to help our program get headed in the right direction in 1998, and his making that Heisman Trophy the ultimate team honor, will never be forgotten. He put us back in the national spotlight and helped us build a program that has been one of the nation's most consistent winners the last 14 years.
"I'm thrilled that DeLoss, President Powers and our University decided to produce such a fitting tribute to one of the greatest players in college football history and what better place for the statue to reside than next to that of Earl Campbell. I can see Earl's statue and the platform where Ricky's will sit from my office window, and I can't wait to see them side by side."
Cleveland based artist David Deming was commissioned in November of 2010 to create the statue and started the clay model in January of last year. Deming taught at the University of Texas for 26 years, leaving ironically in 1998, Williams' final year at UT and the season he won the Heisman. Deming was the Dean of the College of Fine Arts at UT before returning to his hometown of Cleveland to become President of the Cleveland Institute of Art.
Williams, who will be present at the dedication, met with Deming in Ft. Lauderdale and then later in Cleveland to offer his input as the statue developed.
"It was terrific," Deming said. "When he came to the studio, I had pretty much finished the full size clay but with the idea that when he came, if there was some tweaking to do, that I could do that based on whatever impact he felt.
"So he came into the studio [and] he walked around the piece. It was probably only 30 seconds, but he wasn't saying anything right away. I could tell that he was responding well to it because he had a big smile on his face."
Williams said he enjoyed working with Deming and was proud of the final product and what it represented.
"I've been fortunate enough to visit with David [Deming] and see the statue as it developed, and it brought back so many great memories; from going to class and enjoying the beautiful campus, to running into the stadium, sweating it out to get better as a team every day, celebrating victories and singing ‘The Eyes of Texas' - all of the great things that make me so proud to be a Longhorn and to be a part of such a wonderful place," Williams added. "I hope that the statue will bring back as many great memories for all of my teammates and coaches that it stands to represent and for all of the Longhorn fans that support us with such passion. And, the fact that it's right there, next to Earl's, is icing on the cake. I can't wait to see everyone at the spring game and am really looking forward to what will be a special day that I'm thrilled to be a part of."
The unveiling will occur as part of the 2012 Texas Football Spring Jamboree April 1. The annual Orange-White game starts at 2:00 p.m., and Brown said he expected an increased turnout to see the new statue.
"I get chills when I think about the day we retired Ricky's jersey and how excited everyone was. It will be special to do that again at this year's spring game," Brown said.