The Career: Stephen Williams

It's not every day that you find a receiver like Stephen Williams. Very tall at 6-5, but also very fast as his 4.41 forty yard dash shows. But then to have a kid that can run his route and make big catch after big catch with those same stats? That's even more of a rarity. Good enough to be Toledo's all-time career receiving yards leader.

I still remember seeing a tall, but very skinny kid practicing the fade catch in the corner of the end zone in August of 2005. I walked up to then UT head coach Tom Amstutz and said, "Who's #88?"

Tom smiled as he watched #88 haul in a pass over his shoulder. "That's Stephen Williams," Amstutz finally said. He added, "He's a kid from Texas that is raw, but extremely talented."

Williams redshirted that year, learning the game. Then as a redshirt freshman in 2006 he appeared in 10 games, starting four of them. He only managed six receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown, but the TD was a memorable one just before halftime against Kansas.

It was now August of 2007 and I had almost forgot about #88. However, watching practices that August reminded me of that day two years before. #88 was catching everything, and seemed to be a big part of the offense.

And 2007 was a breakout year for Stephen Williams. He had 73 receptions for 1,169 yards and 7 TD's. His 1,169 yards were just 25 yards shy of the school's single season record set by former Rocket receiver and current New Orleans Saints receiver Lance Moore. The duo of Stephen Williams and Nick Moore, Lance's brother, had been born.

Last season Williams and Moore were recognized as one of the best wide receiver tandems in the country. Williams had another big year, despite Toledo's offensive numbers going down. 71 receptions for 781 yards and 8 touchdowns earned Stephen 2nd Team All-MAC honors for the 2nd consecutive season.

So entering this season, many records were within reach for Williams. He needed 73 receptions to break Lance Moore's school career reception mark. He needed 740 yards receiving to break that school career mark, and 10 touchdown receptions to break that school career mark. All records owned by Lance Moore.

Williams entered the Temple game just 68 yards behind Lance Moore's career receiving yards record. On his last reception of the game, he broke the record. Another 137 yards against Miami this past weekend has given Williams 2,921 yards receiving in his career. Just another 9 receiving yards and he will be the first 3,000 yard receiver in Rocket History.

And with three games to go, he is within reach on the other two career marks. He needs 13 receptions to break Lance Moore's career receptions record, and 5 touchdowns to break his career receiving touchdowns record. He is currently tied for 2nd on the career touchdowns list with Mel Long, Jr at 21 TD receptions. He is six receptions behind Steve Odom for 2nd on the career receptions list.

So far this season Williams has 60 receptions for 884 yards and five touchdowns.

Whether or not Williams holds all three career records when it's all said and done at the end of this year, there is no doubt that he became one of the best receivers of all-time in the history of Toledo Rocket football. Not too shabby for a tall, but skinny kid from Texas.

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