Reggie says goodbye UW, hello NFL

Reggie Williams, considered the top receiver to ever don a Washington Husky football uniform, has announced his intentions to forego his senior season and make himself eligible for April's NFL Draft. Williams spoke to the media at a 2:30 p.m. press conference Monday at the Don James Center, citing "a life-long dream to play in the NFL" as the main factor behind his decision.

He becomes the 11th Husky to declare for the NFL draft as an underclassman.

"This was a very difficult decision for me," said Williams. "I just believe it's the best decision for me.

"I've weighed all my options, and I can't wait to get to the next level for a new challenge."

Williams will likely be a top-10 pick in the NFL draft. Though he says he has yet to talk to any draft experts about where he might wind up being drafted, a straight-faced Williams said he thinks he will be right at the top.

"I believe I will be the first pick," he said. "I'm just going to try to work hard and prepare for the combine and all the workouts. Hopefully I'll be the top pick."

The star receiver says that while he has yet to sign with an agent, he has narrowed down the list to "two or three." While unwilling to disclose those that he's looking at, he added that he'd likely make the decision toward end of the week.

Williams' decision came as no surprise to anyone, including Husky coach Keith Gilbertson, who said he just wanted the receiver to do what he wanted to do.

"I've been fortunate to be around a lot of young guys who have made this choice, and Reggie is as ready physically and as wise for his age as anybody who has gone on and made the decision to go out," said Gilbertson.

"Do I want him to leave? Heck no. What coach would? But I want Reggie to do what's best for Reggie. If he thinks it's time to go, then I'm all for it."

In a promise to his parents, Williams says he plans on graduating by early 2005 at the latest, as he has only has about a year of school credits remaining to achieve the goal.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound receiver leaves Washington as the school's career leader in almost every receiving statistical category. His 278 receptions put him 100 ahead of Paul Skanski, who held the record for 20 years before Williams broke the mark as a sophomore. His total of 3536 yards is 1443 better than Mario Bailey's old record, which stood for over a decade, and good for second-best in Pac-10 history. Stanford's Troy Walters, who holds the top spot on the list, played four seasons.

One of the few school records he never reached was touchdowns by a receiver, held by Bailey (1988-1991) with 26. Williams hauled in 22 in his three-year collegiate career.

His best season came as a sophomore in 2002, when he hauled in 94 catches for 1454 yards and 11 touchdowns. For his achievements on the field, he was showered with awards, including first-team All-American honors by The Associated Press, the Football Writers, ESPN and

He was also a first-team All-Pac-10 selection as a sophomore and junior, as well as the league's co-freshman of the year in 2001.

Williams will be remembered by Husky fans for his long-distance pass connections with quarterback Cody Pickett, his supreme confidence, and his huge performances in wins over the Cougars in the Apple Cup.

One of the most sought-after recruits in the nation during his senior year of 2000 at Lakes High School in Tacoma, he was named the AP's State Player of the Year. After a long drawn-out recruiting process, he announced on local television his intention to become a Husky, letting it be known from day one that he planned on staying only three seasons.

Today, with seasons now in the rear view mirror, Williams made his decision known, but not without the thought of missing all that comes with playing on Saturdays.

"Really just being with the guys, staying in the hotel, the bus rides here, coming out of the tunnel, celebrating after the games," he said. "I can't put my finger on just one thing."

As much as the receiver will miss his college days, Gilbertson says he'll miss Williams' intensity and passion for the game.

"I really appreciated the effort that this guy gave every Saturday," said the Husky head coach. "He was such a competitor and a great team guy."

As the press conference concluded, and the television cameras had left the area, Gilbertson embraced Williams with one final message.

"Well Reggie, I'm gonna miss ya," he said. "We might even need to get a running game." Top Stories