Others have ended up being nothing more than a curiosity that grabs a headline and makes fans wonder "what if?" Example A: in 1984, the Cowboys drafted Olympic sprint champion Carl Lewis.
The Dallas Cowboys reached into that wishing well again Thursday, signing former UT-San Antonio track star Teddy Williams as a cornerback prospect.
The good news is he has better-than-good size (6-3, 200), and his speed borders on the absurd: the only four-time track All-America in UTSA history, Williams helped lead the Roadrunners to six Southland Conference championships (four indoor and two outdoor). He also claimed nine individual conference titles (five indoor and four outdoor) and twice was named the league's Indoor Athlete of the Year and Outdoor Outstanding Track Performer. During his track career at UTSA, Williams set school records in the 55-meter dash (6.23 seconds), the 60-meter dash (6.59), the 100-meter dash (a wind-aided 9.9), the 200 (wind-aided 20.60) and as a part of the 400-meter relay team.
The bad news: he hasn't played football since he was a senior at John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas, and then he was a receiver.
"I played receiver, so the whole secondary thing is new," Williams said. "But I believe in myself and the coaches believe in me, so I feel like we can do great things."
Williams bristled when asked if he is "raw" as a player, saying instead that his focus is on daily improvement.
"I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm ‘raw,' but football comes pretty natural," he said. "So I'm going to come out here and do my best, do what the coaches ask of me, get advice from the older players and move forward to try to progress every day."
Williams said it was the Cowboys who approached him about the opportunity to try out, and having grown up a fan of the team, he didn't hesitate to give it a shot. He also said choosing football over track wasn't as hard as some might imagine for someone who enjoyed as much success on the track as he has.
"Football has always been my heart and my love," Williams said. "Track really helped me progress as a person and as an athlete, competing throughout the four years I was at UTSA. So coming back to football is a great feeling. (It's nice) being out here with the guys and (having) them believe in me to do something special to help this team get to a Super Bowl.
"It's a great feeling to be back on the field and to lace up the cleats, put on shoulder pads and a helmet again, to be able to come out and compete with the best in the world and be on a great team that has great expectations for the season. I'm just excited and the coaches are excited."
Williams said he is not quite as far-removed from the gridiron as some might believe, because he had been considering a return to football before he got the call from the Cowboys.
"I've actually been training for football, because I was thinking about going out for college football for a year — either Div. I for a year or Div. II for two years. So it was a great opportunity, and I was already in shape, so coming out here and training wasn't really hard on me (in terms of) doing the workouts and everything. It's fun. I love this sport, and I'm going to put everything in it."
But rather than going back to school, he now has an opportunity to make a living while re-learning the sport. Realistically, he could earn a spot on the practice squad, and spend a year learning from veterans like Terence Newman, who worked with Williams a little Thursday on his technique and footwork.
"All of the veterans, offense and defense, have motivated me and they believe in me," Williams said. "I've been here probably two days and they already trust me. They heard about what I did in track, but they trust me in football, and I've come to help this team in any way I can. Terence is a great person to look up to — he is great on the field and great off the field, so I couldn't look up to anyone better at this point."
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