Roy Williams: 'Attitude' Is Horns' Missing Link

Sports writers who cover Texas football should have seen this coming. On the last day that NCAA underclassman could declare their eligibility for April's NFL draft, junior wideout <B>Roy Williams </b>took a deep breath Wednesday, lowered his eyes and said, "A lot has come to my attention lately about my ability to play at the next level… (a dramatic pause)… I'm leaving."

Gasp! What? Stop the presses!

"Naw, I'm kidding," he laughs.

Whew! From now on, the only reversal of field we can expect from Williams will be during those explosive end arounds, or when he cuts back against the grain, distancing himself from those hapless defenders.

And, frankly, he didn't waver much since announcing the decision at the annual UT Football Banquet, Dec. 13. But Texas athletic officials arranged a 1 p.m. news conference at the request of several members of the sports media. That's when Williams made it official.

"I've heard a lot of good stuff about my possibly being a third or fourth pick (in the draft) but I decided to go for another year," Williams said. "There are a lot of plusses and minuses about staying and leaving, but my decision still remained the same."

Williams said he "would kill" to compete against the Charles Woodsons and Chris McAllisters of the NFL world ("I‘ll just sit back, relax, and let them get a little bit older," he smiled).

Despite all those boring, amateur Big 12 defenders, the best coverage Williams will face next season is his $3 million insurance policy against injury that he finalized just a few days ago. He saw how Miami RB Willis McGahee was "eleven minutes away from having a million dollars in his pocket" in the Fiesta Bowl before suffering horrific ligament damage following a nasty hit. Williams' policy was not in place during Texas' 35-20 Cotton Bowl win over LSU, but he said that he would have sought a medical redshirt and returned for a fifth season had he been injured.

That's just how intent he is on coming back. Even the big bucks that accompany NFL stardom were not as big a temptation as some might think, he said.

"Money is not the issue for me or my family," he said. "We're not kings and queens. But we have a house; we're not homeless. It (money) can wait another year."

Williams listed camaraderie with teammates, coaches and the appeal of the city of Austin as among the reasons for dodging the NFL draft for one more year. Besides, his mother insists that he get his degree. The junior is taking 15 hours this semester toward a Bachelors in Youth and Community Studies.

But then there's the reason that will make your toes curl.

"I want to put this thing together and try to win two more games," Williams said. "I want to be part of that."

(Don't you love it when he talks dirty?)

And here's a few more sweet nothings: Williams said Texas is not without the talent to win a national championship -- nor is it without coaching, nor a winning game plan. The missing link, he says, is "attitude".

"We have a great offense that really can work, but the problem is that we don't execute it and we need to get an attitude," he said, with a determined gleam in his eyes. "If someone is blocking you, you take his helmet off. If you're blocking someone, you knock him in the dirt. If you're going out for a pass, you punish that defensive back and then you sit on him."

And then Williams got on a roll.

"Have you seen Miami?" Williams asked. "They just kill guys. Once we get that kind of attitude, people will respect us. Once we get like that, it'll be Florida State all over again (presumably the Florida State of old). Florida State's offense is the simplest offense on earth. Their offense is as simple as bread."

Hey, there's not an Orangeblood anywhere who wouldn't sell his grandmother's organs to medical science in exchange for just two more wins next season. But what about individual honors? Is there Heisman hardware in Williams' future?

Not a chance, he said. While Ricky Williams mentioned the Heisman as one of the factors in his return for a fourth season, the senior-to-be said it was not a factor in his decision.

"I'd love to win, but I won't," Williams said. "They're not going to give a wide receiver the Heisman. A running back or a quarterback, yeah, but not a wide receiver."

Williams says he is not even the best receiver in the Big 12. That distinction, Williams contends, belongs to Oklahoma State's Rashaun Woods, who also opted for a senior year of college.

"He's going to break all the (league) records," Williams believes. "He's the man."

The crystal ball here says Williams is easily one of the top five vote-getters invited to the awards ceremony in New York next December. At the same time, it's clear that Williams is not satisfied with his tenure-to-date at Texas. Unless your Dennis Franchione, you gotta love that coming from a guy who has averaged 34 yards per touchdown catch (27 for 918 yards) and 38 yards per rushing touchdown (three for 114 yards), who owns the school record for consecutive games with a reception (34), for single season touchdown grabs (12) and for career touchdown catches (27).

"I only played five games (healthy) last year," said Williams, who suffered a hamstring injury against Houston, September 21. He was not full speed until he went nuts against Nebraska, November 2 (161 yards on 13 receptions, two touchdowns).

"There were some games last year where I got just 30 or 40 yards," Williams said. "That's horrible. But then I got healthy and Chris (Simms) and I got on the same page, and then we were on a roll."

Another factor influencing Williams' decision is that he wants one more year of college before entering the "real world." The man-child is less than one month removed from his 21st birthday, and he knows he will be a grown-up for a very, very long time -- so why rush it?

"I'm still a kid at heart," he admits. "I still watch cartoons. I'm not ready to be businesslike. That's what the NFL is -- it's all business. I still want to have fun."

The interesting thing is the flak that Williams caught for his decision to remain in college. Just five years ago, Ricky's decision was hailed as an endorsement of prioritizing education while Roy's decisions has been relatively derided by more than one media outlet.

Is he just that much better than Ricky? Is Roy perceived as parlaying his extra the year into a more lucrative signing bonus? Or, is the general public now simply overlooking the "student" component of student-athlete? He admits his mother was bombarded with phone calls from those questioning his decision, while friends back home in Odessa told him he was forgoing a chance to not only "take the money and run" but to be "the town hero."

None of that matters to the speedster who is so outrageously gifted that teammates have labeled him a "freak of nature."

"God gave me this talent and told me to stay," Williams said. "So I'm staying."

Amen.


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