DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis Tigers

by Francis Duffy on January 30, 2006 @ 16:00:00 PDT

 


One of the most accomplished running backs in NCAA history, Memphis RB DeAngelo Williams is ready to step into the NFL. A native of Little Rock, Ark., Williams was highly touted out of high school as the top recruit in the state. The former high school track star had plenty of choices as to where he would play his college ball, but in the end he decided to become a Memphis Tiger.

As a freshman, Williams ran for 129 yards and a touchdown in his first game against Murray State. He appeared in just nine more games that year but ended the season as their leading rusher with 684 yards. In 2003, he took over the starting job for good as a sophomore and ran with it. Despite missing the last two games of the season, Williams led the nation in all-purpose yards.

In 2004, Williams proved to be an elite prospect. He led the nation in rushing touchdowns (22) while placing second in rushing yards (1,948), points (138) and all-purpose yards (2,230). Many thought he would forego his eligibility for his senior year and enter the 2005 draft, where he would have gone in Round 1, but he decided to stay in school.

This past year, the now two-time Conference USA Player of the Year led the nation in rushing yards (1,959), and despite playing in only 11 games, finished fourth in rushing touchdowns (18). He made history against Akron in the Motor City Bowl, running for 238 yards and three scores. That last game put him in sole possession of the record for career 100-yard rushing games (34). That is not the only honor Williams earned however, as he also wrapped up the NCAA Division 1-A record for all-purpose yards over a career (7,568).

Positives

Without a doubt the best senior rusher in his class, Williams does everything right. At 5-8, 208 pounds, he isn't the biggest back, but he has good build and is very strong for his size. His height also helps him run lower to the ground, making him much harder to tackle. The former Tiger has the quickness and the burst to break a run outside, while employing toughness as well as patience to break a long one. He has deceptive speed in the open field, which he exhibited against Akron on his 67-yard scamper that set up his second of three touchdowns on the day.

Williams also has one of the best set of hands at his position, as evidenced by his astonishing string of 936 total touches without a fumble, and can really make things happen after the catch despite having low receiving totals during his time at Memphis. His productivity can not be ignored, but one can't help but think that Williams would have ended up with even more impressive stats had his coaches not told him to run out of bounds whenever he could (Memphis suffered several key injuries on the offensive side of the ball, including their top three quarterbacks, and could not afford to lose their top player).

As captain of the team, Williams is the vocal leader of his squad on and off the field, a quality which will surely help him at the next level.

Negatives

Durability will be the biggest thing scouts look at when they view Williams, who has missed time over the past two seasons at Memphis. He ended the 2004 season with a broken leg and tore his medial collateral ligament a year earlier. Williams will have to prove that he can stay fully healthy if wants to be a lock for the top five come draft day. He also faces a problem similar to that of RB Cedric Benson (Chicago Bears) a year ago, as some scouts believe that Williams may have been overworked during his college career. A team won't draft a player too high if they are only going to get five quality years out of him. Overall, however, Williams is a fantastic back in the mold of RB Marshall Faulk (St. Louis Rams) or LaDanian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers) and does not have many weaknesses.

Draft Placement

What takes place leading up to the draft will ultimately decide when Williams will be taken. With such a deep free-agent crop at his position, (one which includes the likes of RBs Shaun Alexander (Seattle Seahawks), Edgerrin James (Indianapolis Colts), Jamal Lewis (Baltimore Ravens) and Ahman Green (Green Bay Packers), some teams could potentially fill their need for a star tailback. As of right now, the highest Williams could go is at No. 5 to Green Bay, and he shouldn't fall any lower than the Atlanta Falcons at pick No. 15.

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About Francis Duffy

"Fran Duffy has been involved in sports since he was a child. A Philadelphia native, Fran is obviously a die-hard fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers. Fran is desperately waiting to see his first major championship from one of his hometown teams. He is a Broadcasting major at Temple University and has experience on the radio as well as in television production. Fran also currently works with Temple football's video-operation's team and is an avid fantasy sports player. Looking for more experience in writing, Fran joined KFFL in the spring of 2005."

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