Ricky Williams

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

On Jan. 8, 1998, Ricky Williams announced he would return to UT for his senior season. Williams’ return to Texas, despite being a probable top-five pick, is still seen as one of the biggest recruiting feats of the Mack Brown era. Thanks to his leadership and play on the field, the Longhorns bounced back from a disastrous 1997 campaign.

In similar fashion, the return of running back Malcolm Brown, defensive back Quandre Diggs and defensive end Cedric Reed, who were all draft eligible after their junior seasons, are the first major recruiting victories of the Charlie Strong era.

Brown came to Texas as the top running back recruit in 2011 but was hindered by injuries throughout his first two seasons. In both years, Brown started the season strong before injuries forced him to miss games and affected his play. After struggling to find touches early in 2013, Brown pounded out 841 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in the final eight contests. 

Diggs returns to Texas for his senior season following a disappointing 2013. Diggs led the team in pass breakups (9) for the third consecutive year, but failed to record an interception after picking off four passes in each of his first two seasons. He was quiet for long stretches of 2013, rotating between playing corner and nickel. A move to safety is a possibility in 2014 since Diggs is small for an NFL corner and Texas will be looking to replace Adrian Phillips.

Reed returns to Texas — after showing great improvement in 2013 — as arguably the defense’s top player. Reed led the team in forced fumbles (5), while finishing second in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (18.5). Despite being a probable second-day draft selection this year, Reed could shoot up the draft boards with a successful 2014 campaign. He could learn under the defensive-minded Strong and could be to the Texas defense what Williams was to the offense in 1998.

“Coach Strong is a very passionate guy who knows a lot about football and knows a lot about the game,” Reed said. “He wants to build on everything we have here, and I want to be a part of that as a senior.”

Offensive tackle Josh Cochran, who made 23 starts from 2011 to 2013 and started his final 19 contests, has given up football because of a recurring shoulder injury.

Defensive tackle Paul Boyette Jr., receiver Bryant Jackson and linebackers Tim Cole and Dalton Santos all underwent surgery over the break.

Cole and Santos should be back for spring practice, while Boyette and Jackson will miss the spring. Defensive back Sheroid Evans, running back Johnathan Gray and linebackers Jordan Hicks and Tevin Jackson — who are all recovering from injuries suffered in 2013 — will also miss spring practice.

Former Texas running back Jeremy Hills has his wingspan measured at Texas Pro Day Tuesday.  Hills jumped, sprinted and caught passes from Vince Young as part of the day’s activities.  

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Vince threw, Ricky donned a suit and Marquise danced.

Athleticism marked Texas’ pro day as Texas graduates and NFL hopefuls strutted the skills they’d worked tirelessly to perfect for a bevy of scouts. 

“We wanted the guys who didn’t do as well at the combine to have a second chance, so they can come home to a more comfortable setting and show the scouts what they can do,” head coach Mack Brown said of pro day.

The work began midmorning in the weight room, where players were measured and completed vertical jumps, 40-yard dashes and other strength activities. Marquise Goodwin, who sprang off the ground for an impressive 42 inches, pouted because he thought he’d jumped 44. Former running back and Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams snapped photos with Brown and former Texas quarterback Vince Young, who threw passes later in the afternoon in front of scouts. 

Fullback Ryan Roberson had a group of family members there to support him, including his father, stepmother, brother, sister and a friend.

“We’re so proud of him,” Charles Roberson said of his son. “He just had the drive and determination and he pushed himself to get this far.”

Players then made their way to the indoor practice field for passing and running drills. Young’s son bumbled across the turf and helped his father line up balls and stack cones. 

Young’s participation drew a lot of attention from scouts and the media, but Brown said he is proud of Young and his willingness to keep trying. The Buffalo Bills dropped the former Texas quarterback in 2012, and he is currently working on landing a spot on an NFL roster.    

Young shot spirals at Texas running back D.J. Monroe and at Goodwin, who performed a dance in the end zone after stretching his arms to grab one of Young’s passes.

Running back Jeremy Hills worked out after spending months mending an injury.

“That’s a blessing, really, to be able to break your leg and tear ligaments in your ankle and come back four and a half months later and be able to compete,” he said. “It felt good on the turf. This is like a second home for us.”

Highly touted safety Kenny Vaccaro did not run a 40-yard dash due to a hip injury, but participated in other Pro Day workouts.

Defensive end Alex Okafor, who some experts predict will be selected in the first round of the NFL draft, said he was proud of the work he did at pro day.  “I think more than anything, the coaches wanted to see what I would do once I got tired,” he said. “I wanted to show that I was healthy. I thought I came up to the occasion.”

Former Texas running back Ricky Williams and pitcher Cat Osterman were among the people inducted in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on Monday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

WACO, Texas — Shaquille O'Neal was a star in an overlooked Texas sport. Drew Brees was an overlooked player in the star of Texas high school athletics: football.

They were supposed to share a stage Monday night for induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame before O'Neal canceled hours after the NBA All-Star game in Houston, citing a family matter.

O'Neal was a four-time NBA champion who won the Class 3A title at San Antonio Cole in 1989. Brees, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for New Orleans, won a state title at Austin Westlake in 1996.

The agent for the star known simply as Shaq told Texas sports hall officials late Sunday that O'Neal had to fly to California for personal reasons. It wasn't clear whether O'Neal's change of plans was connected to the death Monday of Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss. O'Neal won three straight titles with the Lakers starting in 2000 and played eight of his 19 seasons in Los Angeles.

The Texas sports hall requires living honorees to attend the ceremony, but Director Steve Fallon said O'Neal's induction would stand. Representatives from his high school were still planning to attend, Fallon said.

"I have been looking forward to this ceremony for months," O'Neal said in a statement released by the hall. "I have a great love for the state of Texas and the city of San Antonio and would have loved to attend in person, if at all possible."

The other inductees Monday were Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams and softball star Cat Osterman of the Texas Longhorns, the late baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews, Walt Garrison of the Dallas Cowboys and former Lubbock Monterey baseball coach Bobby Moegle.

O'Neal's fame came after he left Texas, where basketball has always been overshadowed by football. He played at LSU before Orlando made him the top pick in the 1992 draft. He went to the finals with the Magic in 1995, losing to Houston, before joining the Lakers in 1996. He lost in the finals to Detroit with the Lakers in 2004 and won his fourth title in 2006 with Dwyane Wade and Miami when the Heat beat Dallas.

The 40-year-old O'Neal went to LSU before becoming the top pick in the 1992 draft by Orlando. He went to the finals in 1995 with the Magic, who got swept by Houston. He lost to Detroit in the 2004 finals with the Lakers and won his fourth title in 2006 with Dwyane Wade and Miami when the Heat beat Dallas.

Brees went to Purdue after he said he was the "backup plan" for Texas A&M, where he really wanted to go, and Texas. Both those schools signed their first choices at quarterback, so Brees instead remains the Purdue and Big Ten career leader in every major passing category and took the Boilermakers to their first Rose Bowl in 34 years as a senior during the 2000 season. He started his NFL career in San Diego, but left two years after the Chargers drafted Philip Rivers.

The Saints won the Super Bowl in Brees' fourth season with them, and he's now eighth in NFL career passing yards at 45,919 and holds the single-season record of 5,476 set in 2011.

"It all worked out the way it's supposed to," Brees said. "I wouldn't trade it for the world. I've been lucky enough to be able to do some pretty cool things and play football a long time. One of my greatest moments will always be 1996, winning the 5A state championship in the state of Texas."

Williams, a San Diego native, joined Earl Campbell as the only Texas Longhorns to win the Heisman when he won college football's top prize in 1998. He set the NCAA's single-season rushing mark and won back-to-back rushing titles. He finished an 11-season NFL career with 10,009 yards.

"I've been the kind of person that whatever I do I make sure I enjoy it," Williams said. "I squeezed every drop of joy out of my time at Texas."

Osterman, a Houston native, led the Longhorns to three appearances in the Women's College World Series and won 136 games in her college softball career.

Mathews, a native of Texarkana, Texas, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame after a 17-year career with the Braves in Boston, Atlanta and Milwaukee and brief stints with Houston and Detroit. He hit 512 home runs and played in three World Series, with Milwaukee in 1957-58 and Detroit in 1968. He died at age 69 in 2001.

Walt Garrison, who went to high school in the Dallas area at Lewisville and was a fullback for the Cowboys, retired as the third-leading rusher and fourth-leading receiver for Dallas in 1974. He won a Super Bowl with the 1971 team and was a professional rodeo cowboy and TV pitchman for a smokeless tobacco company.

The 79-year-old Moegle is the winningest high school baseball coach in Texas history and currently ranks fifth nationally with 1,115 victories. He was 1,115-266-1 in 40 seasons at Lubbock Monterey, from 1960 to 1999.

Stat Guy: Where Tucker’s kick ranks in school history

Justin Tucker kicked a 40-yard game-winning field goal on Thursday against the Aggies. Tucker’s kick is one of many in Texas football history that has led to historical wins
Justin Tucker kicked a 40-yard game-winning field goal on Thursday against the Aggies. Tucker’s kick is one of many in Texas football history that has led to historical wins

On Thanksgiving night, Texas kicker Justin Tucker added his name to Longhorn football lore with a career-defining kick that sent Texas A&M packing to the Southeastern Conference with one final loss. Let’s take a look at where Tucker’s field goal ranks amongst other crucial kicks in the Mack Brown Era.

No. 5: The Ryan Bailey Show:

In 2006, Texas headed into Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers. With heavy snow blanketing the field, the Longhorns faced a 19-20 deficit. With starting kicker Greg Johnson 2-for-4 on the day, head coach Mack Brown sent walk-on kicker Ryan Bailey into the game to attempt a 22-yard field goal; Bailey sent the ball through the uprights, won the game and secured his job as the Texas placekicker. The next season, Bailey kicked a 40-yard game-winner at Oklahoma State that capped off a 24-point comeback in the fourth quarter.

No. 4: Stockton saves Ricky’s day:

And to think, Ricky Williams’ record-setting day in 1998 nearly ended in a loss. After the Heisman Trophy winner broke Tony Dorsett’s NCAA rushing record with a 60-yard touchdown in the first quarter against Texas A&M, the Longhorns found themselves down 23-24 with five seconds left. Kicker Kris Stockton, who had already missed attempts of 50 and 28 yards, came out to try a 24-yard field goal. The kick was true, Texas won 26-24 and Ricky’s day was made perfect.

No. 3: Mangum shoots Texas past Michigan:

In 2004, the one-loss Longhorns headed into the Rose Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines. Behind quarterback Vince Young’s five-touchdown performance — a preview of what was to come in 2005 — the game ultimately came down to the leg of senior kicker Dusty Mangum. With time running out, Mangum kicked a 37-yard field goal — which seemed to be deflected at the line of scrimmage — to defeat the Wolverines 38-37. It was Mangum’s first field goal attempt of the game and proved to be the most important play.

No. 2: So long, Aggies:

The aforementioned Tucker kick, which came after Case McCoy scrambled 25 yards to put Texas in field goal position. For Tucker, who played high school football at Austin Westlake, the 40-yarder becomes the highlight of his collegiate career. And for the Longhorns, it was the perfect way to end the last scheduled game of the storied rivalry.

No.1: One second left:

In 2009, Texas found itself down 10-12 against the Cornhuskers in the Big 12 Championship game. In a game dominated by Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Longhorn kicker Hunter Lawrence stole the show, kicking a 46-yard field goal with one second left to beat the Cornhuskers, 13-12. The kick sent Texas to the National Championship, leading many to call it the most important kick in Texas football history.

Printed on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 as: Kickers clutch in comebacks throughout Texas' history

Stat Guy: Malcolm Brown may be the next great Longhorn running back

It may be hard to believe, but at one point in time Texas was Running Back U. And this past Saturday night could have marked its reemergence.

With the likes of Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and others, Texas has historically dominated the ground game. But with spread offenses becoming the norm in college football the past few years, the Longhorns have strayed from the physical style of play in recent years, choosing to spread the ball out to a variety of receivers and focus on an offensive line philosophy that emphasizes stepping backwards to pass block rather than stepping forwards to run block.

Times might be changing yet again. With 86 yards rushing on 16 carries, true freshman Malcolm Brown looked like a blast from the past Saturday night against Rice.

How does that stack up against previous Longhorn legends? In his debut, Earl Campbell had 85 yards against Boston College in 1974. Ricky Williams burst onto the scene with 95 yards and two touchdowns against Hawaii in 1995. The versatile Ramonce Taylor had 96 yards against North Texas in 2004. Cedric Benson had 64 yards on 15 carries against New Mexico State in 2001.

The most impressive freshman debut in school history belongs to Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 135 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2005.

Brown earned all 86 of his yards in the second half after not registering a touch in the first. He only had two negatives through the night, a botched handoff that resulted in a fumble and a dropped pass.

“It was a good start. I’ve got a long way to go,” Brown said. “I have to hold on to that ball. I had that one fumble. That’s going to stay in my mind for a little bit.”

Who knows how the stud from Cibolo’s Steele High School will finish his career as a Longhorn, but if historical statistics hold true, it’ll probably be successful. 

Former Texas running back Ricky Williams stands in front of a statue dedicated to him before the Texas Orange and White spring NCAA college football game, Sunday, April 1, 2012, in Austin, Texas.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

On Sunday, Ricky Williams’ statue was unveiled. Dreadlocks and all.

“Close enough,” Williams said laughing about the likeness.

Williams saw the statue last summer when it was still clay. But the 8-foot, 1,000 pound statue was finally revealed to Williams and Texas fans on Sunday at Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium.

“For me, it’s a statue of me. But I guess I look at it more as a celebration of the University and the time I spent here and the success I had was a reflection of the University; and I think had I gone to any other school I don’t think I would have had the kind of success that I had,” Williams said.

The university commissioned David Deming to build the sculpture in November 2010.  Deming taught at Texas for 26 years and was the Dean of the College of Fine Arts.  He was formerly the president of the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Williams was part of a team that helped turn around the Texas football program. One of his goals coming to Texas was to be a part of the transformation of a struggling football program.

In his Texas career, Williams rushed for a then-NCAA record of 6,279 yards, including 2,124 his senior year.

“Just being in this environment for four years was just amazing,” Williams said. “I can honestly say that pretty much every day was a great moment here. I had a lot of great friends and I had so much support from the football office and everyone in it. I had great coaches, great teammates.”

Williams does not believe he would have had nearly as much success in his career if he had gone to a different university. He said the Longhorns coaching staff and the environment gives athletes all the tools they need to be successful. The expectations are so high that athletes have a great opportunity to succeed.

“If you want to be the best then go ahead and take it,” Williams said. “I think Earl [Campbell] proved it, I proved it, Vince [Young] proved it, Colt [McCoy] proved it. I look at the statue as kind of a symbol for everyone that comes to the University here to say, I want them to look at that and say, ‘I want mine to be right next to Ricky’s.’”

Williams has been enjoying Austin for the past couple of days and it looks like he will be around for a while. Although he has been traveling a lot since he retired, he has decided to go back to school at UT in the fall.

“It’s going to be funny being a student and walking by my statue,” Williams said.

Approximately 30,000 fans came out for the Orange-White game, and it is probable that most of these fans were here to support the legend. Fellow Heisman winner Earl Campbell was also in attendance.

Williams said he has no regrets in his career.

“Regrets are when you have a goal and your goal is not reached. When I got to the NFL I didn’t really have any goals,” Williams said. “After 11 seasons, I’ve realized even more so that I’m a special person, a unique person.”

But the 35 year-old is enjoying his retirement and his statue will remain outside of Darrell K Royal Memorial stadium to honor his legacy as one of the greatest Longhorns in history.

“Something I say a lot is if you want to be an actress or an actor, you go to Hollywood,” Williams said. “If you want to shop, you go to Paris or New York. If you want to play college football then you come to Austin, Texas. I came here for the college football experience and I got that and a million times more.”

Former Longhorn Ricky Williams retired from the NFL after 11 seasons on Tuesday. Williams 34, had one of the greatest careers ever in school history, winning the Heisman trophy in 1998. He also had a strong NFL career, rushing for over 10,000 yards. (Daily Texan File Photo)

Photo Credit: Kassi Patton | Daily Texan Staff

Ricky Williams was Texas’ best football player of the last two decades, and arguably one of the best in school history. He ran for 7,206 yards and 72 touchdowns, won a Heisman Trophy and earned back-to-back NCAA rushing and scoring titles. He played 11 seasons in the NFL, a rarity these days, and is currently 26th on the all-time rush leaders list with more than 10,000 yards behind him. However, Ricky Williams’ biggest accomplishment as a football player was that he humanized the sport.

Much was made of the 34-year old’s NFL career, which came to an end after Tuesday’s announcement. The scrutiny started in New Orleans where he was good, but never explosive. It was then that he began to really feel the effects of his later revealed social anxiety disorder, a mental illness that acts like a tenacious gnat in the brain. It’s characterized by a persistent and irrational fear that people are constantly judging the sufferer, and it makes social situations unbearably painful to handle.

Williams was always shy, but many saw his aloof nature as something to scoff at. The truth was that he honestly couldn’t handle the basic task of confronting people. He used to wear his helmet into the press room when talking to reporters because he felt safe behind it. Williams sometimes literally ran away from fans as they approached him, not because he was cold, but because he was feeling incredibly anxious. He often barely associated with his New Orleans teammates.

“Most definitely [my social anxiety disorder] affected my ability [to be a leader]. I didn’t want to talk to the guys much,” Williams said in a 2005 interview just before making his comeback into professional football. “A lot of what makes a good leader on a team happens off the field.”

Most of off-the-field-Ricky became on-the-front-page-Ricky. His multiple failed drug tests were publicly scrutinized and fans saw him as selfish and a burnout. His durability was called into question, and his passion for the sport was swept under the rug for media types to attack only what they saw on the outside. To Williams though, his first disappearance from the game in 2004 was the “most positive thing” he said he did in his life, because it allowed him to confront his anxiety and seek treatment. No one saw this as courageous even though fewer than 15 percent of the one in five Americans that suffers from some form of a mental disorder will seek treatment.

“They should not feel that they are weird or not normal,” Williams offered as advice to those with anxiety in that same 2005 interview. “Confronting it and getting help are the key.”

At Texas, Williams ran with such gusto and passion that it was easy to forget that behind the longhorn logo and the retired jersey number that hangs in the heavens of Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium, there was a kid with more than just the everyday fears that afflict college students. Social anxiety disorder goes beyond being unable to handle public situations. Sufferers say it is a 24-hour cycle of stress. Williams braved it while at UT, and Mack Brown is one of the people to thank. He understood Williams’ on and off the field better than most.

“Ricky had a tremendous football career, and we’re looking forward to seeing a lot more of him notw that he’s retired,” Brown said. “One thing I know for sure, Ricky accomplished a lot on the football field, but he aspires for even more in his career after football.”

We have a tendency when we are younger to idolize our sports heroes, and we should, because they are our role models who can do extraordinary, super-human things. But its easy to forget what it is that makes us all human. Sports stars are afforded a sterile form of celebrity when they first step on the scene, and then any actions that occur thereafter, good or bad, are judged in a vacuum.

His retirement is sad, because the game will miss him. But make no mistake, Williams lives for things beyond football now even though it was one of his greatest loves. I had a chance to speak to him a little less than a year ago during the NFL lockout and when I asked him how what the downtime afforded him a chance to do, he said pretty much everything. He wasn’t focused on football any more than he was on his disorder. Instead he said he wanted to spend more time with his children, something he said he was unable to do before seeking treatment for his anxiety, and focus on his charity work.

“My football career has been filled with many great memories going back to pee wee football,” Williams said in a statement yesterday. “It has been a big part of my life and blessed me with so many wonderful opportunities and the chances to connect many people who have helped me grow and mature. I love the game and leave it feeling fulfilled, proud, in great health and excited about the future.”

The future for Ricky should be celebrated as a story as big as his football career. It represents the very real narrative of resilience conquering hardship, and it does it in an intangible way that will never require us sports writers to scrutinize his statistics, his injuries or his productivity. We can finally examine him as simply human as we should have done all along.

“As for what’s next, I’m excited about all the opportunities ahead,” Williams said. “Continuing my education, running the Ricky Williams Foundation and whatever other opportunities present themselves.”

Ricky Williams served as the backup running back in Baltimore in his final season in the NFL. Williams rushed for over 10,000 yards in his career and is 26th overall on the all-time rushing list.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Texas legend and 1998 Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams has decided to retire after 11 seasons in the NFL. Williams, 34, played with the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and spent his final year with the Baltimore Ravens.

He ends his career as one of just 26 players in NFL history to rush for more than 10,000 yards. He passed Earl Campbell in rushing, becoming Texas’ most productive rusher in the NFL.

“The NFL has been an amazing page in this chapter of my life,” Williams said. “I pray that all successive adventures offer me the same potential for growth, success and most importantly fun. I want to thank all my fans, teammates, coaches and supporters for the strength they’ve given me to overcome so much.”

He was selected fifth overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 1999 NFL Draft, and he became the first Saints 1,000 yard rusher in more than a decade. In 2002, while on the Dolphins, Williams led the NFL with 1,853 rushing yards. In his final season, his season with the Ravens, he rushed for 444 yards and two touchdowns. Baltimore went 12-4 this season and lost to New England in the AFC championship game.

He originally retired in 2004 when facing a suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. But he returned in 2005 and then played with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 2006.

His last NFL start was in 2009; he played backup for Ray Rice this season.

“I have to thank coach [John] Harbaugh and the Ravens organization for the opportunity they gave me this year,” Williams said. “I had so much fun and really appreciated the chance to finish on such a great note.”

As a Texas player, Williams was the winner of the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year award. He finished as one of the best players in college football history with 21 NCAA records and 26 University of Texas all-time marks.

Williams said he now plans to continue his education and running the Ricky Williams Foundation.

“We’re so proud of Ricky and everything he accomplished,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He’s always been a great player but in recent years I watched every week with amazement at how much speed, power and quickness he still had despite his age.”

Williams’ No. 34 jersey was retired in September 2000 and he is in the Longhorn Hall of Honor.

“He is a special football player and will always be remembered as one of the best to ever play the game,” Brown said.

Printed on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 as: Texas great Ricky Williams retires from NFL

Tailback Ricky Williams broke the NCAA all-time career rushing mark in the first quarter of the game with a 60-yard touchdown scamper. (file photo)

Photo Credit: Andrew Loehman | Daily Texan Staff

They all knew it was coming, from the legion of orange-clad fanatics to the stoic Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, from the “Tyler Rose” to the “Rocket,” from a former Newton Boy to a real-life Cowboy hero.

Over the past four years, Longhorn fans everywhere had already seen their dreadlocked savior achieve almost every spectacular feat that a college player could, and there was seemingly no broken tackle, no burst of speed, no historic run that could make the legend of Ricky Williams grow any larger.

But as he raced into immortality on Friday at 10:47 a.m. CST, Williams managed to outdo himself once again.

With Williams only 11 yards short of Tony Dorsett’s all-time NCAA rushing record late in the first quarter of Texas’ 26-24 win over the Aggies, the Horns had the ball at their own 40.

On an isolation play known as “L King Zin 53,” quarterback Major Applewhite handed the ball off to the star halfback, who exploded through the line of scrimmage, shed a potential Sedrick Curry tackle at midfield, burst down the left sideline, slowed down inside the A&M 10 to follow a Wayne McGarity block and carried Aggie safety Jason Webster into the endzone for a historic 60-yard touchdown that sent a Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial crowd of 83,687 into utter pandemonium.

“What a great way to break the record,” said center Russell Gaskamp, who along with guard Roger Roesler and fullback Ricky Brown had a key block on the play. “It was just vintage Ricky — breaking tackles, being able to outrun everybody — it was the whole package.”

By the end of the day, Williams had amassed 259 yards on the ground, 196 more than he had needed to break Dorsett’s mark and 15 more than the Aggies had ever given up to a single back in the history of A&M football.

But after Kris Stockton’s kick secured the Texas victory, it was the 60-yard rumble that everyone was talking about.

“He’s always been a little bit of a showboat,” head coach Mack Brown said. “He wanted to get that special 60-yard run to break a national record, just to make it stand out.”

After Williams reached the endzone, he embraced McGarity and tackled Jay Humphrey before being greeted by hordes of Texas players and coaches on the sideline. The officiating crew then set aside the football, which will be sent to the Football Foundation Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.

“I was exhausted,” Williams said. “I came back to the sidelines and got mobbed by the whole team. I couldn’t breathe. I was trying to say ‘help,’ but I couldn’t get anything out.”

Among those observing from the sideline was Dorsett, who excitedly jumped and pointed as Williams was streaking down the field. Dorsett, whose Dallas Cowboys rushing mark was broken earlier this month by Emmitt Smith, said he was pleased to see that his NCAA record of 6,082 yards was broken by a player like Williams.

“I feel almost like this is my child, watching something like this,” Dorsett said. “This is history.”

And clearly, it wasn’t just Dorsett who sensed the magnitude of Williams’ feat.

“Every time I gave him the ball, I looked at him because I thought it could be the memorable play,” Applewhite said. “After I handed to him that time, I didn’t even carry out my fake. I said, ‘I’ve got to see this.’”

Two hours after Williams broke the record, when the final seconds had ticket off the clock, the probable Heisman winner was engulfed by a sea of cameras, reporters and celebrities, including actor Matthew McConaughey and American League Cy Young Award-winner Roger Clemens.

A video tribute was played on the JumboTron scoreboard, and the surreal ceremony was concluded with a presentation involving former Heisman winners Earl Campbell of Texas and John David Crow of Texas A&M.

Afterward, the author of 15 NCAA records tried to put perspective on the momentous occasion.

“It’s special for everyone involved with this program,” said Williams, who finished his senior season with 2,124 yards. “I’m just happy that I could make everyone proud.”

Printed on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 as: Williams breaks rushing record, clinches Heisman Trophy

Kevin Durant answers questions from the media at his basketball camp Saturday afternoon. Durant has kept busy despite the recent onset of a lockout in the NBA.

Photo Credit: Andrew Edmonson | Daily Texan Staff

Make no doubt about it — Texas is a school that prides itself on the players it produces in its historic football and baseball programs.

But the likes of Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Bobby Layne and Vince Young, and baseball stars Roger Clemens, Burt Hooton and Huston Street might have to make room atop the school’s professional pantheon because Kevin Durant, all 22 years and 230 lanky pounds of him, is about to supplant them all.

This might sound like jumping the gun on a guy who has been in the NBA for just four years, but the way things are going, Durant should end up as the school’s greatest athletic export.

In four years with Seattle and Oklahoma City, he has won Rookie of the Year, has been a two-time NBA All-Star, has twice made an appearance on the All-NBA First Team, was the MVP of the 2010 FIBA World Championships and has won the league’s scoring title two years running, making him the youngest ever to do so.

When Durant was drafted at No. 2 by the SuperSonics — who would later move to OKC and be renamed the Thunder — the team was coming off a previous 31-51 season. He now has them looking like heavyweights for years to come after a surprise trip to the Western Conference Finals.

“Experience is everything and we gained a lot of experience in getting to the conference finals,” he said Saturday at his basketball camp.

Durant will tack on a few more scoring titles and will work his way up the all-time scoring list. His unquenchable desire to improve and to win — he says he trains almost every day of the year — will make him a Hall of Famer.

Former Longhorn pitcher Roger Clemens — 354 major league wins, two-time World Series champ, seven Cy Young Awards, 11-time All-Star, and the 1986 MVP — had this “best from Texas” thing in the bag before allegations of steroid use tainted his legacy. Vince had a shot before things went south in Nashville. Ricky just wanted to smoke pot.

You could make arguments for Earl Campbell or Bobby Layne, as long as you consider that Earl took so many hits he only lasted in the NFL for eight seasons and that Layne played in a time of such minimal media coverage that half the casual sports fans at Texas have only a vague idea of who he is.

That a basketball player could end up being the professional pride of this University, where they used to say fall football and spring football were the only two sports that mattered, would have been scoffed at a mere 10 years ago. But T.J. Ford became the pied piper for star players to attend Texas, and Durant followed suit and compiled an outstanding freshman season, putting up a 26-point, 11-rebound per-game line and winning the Naismath Award, the Wooden Award, the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the Adolph F. Rupp Trophy — sorry if this is getting repetitive — the NABC Division I Player of the Year Award and was named the AP College Player of the Year.

“T.J. did something to put the program on the map, and then Kevin nationalized the program because he’s from Washington D.C.,” said incoming point guard Myck Kabongo, a five-star recruit from Canada who was a guest at Durant’s basketball camp this weekend.

Durant has now turned himself into a national brand, with the Nike and Gatorade sponsorships, the backpack, and his uncanny style of play — a 6-foot-9 swingman with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, he can get his shot off whenever he wants. And he hardly ever misses.

If you like to dream big, then maybe even forget the whole “best from Texas” argument — at this rate, Durant could end up as one of the best players in the NBA’s history.

Kabongo declined to say who, between T.J. and Durant, was Texas’ best ever basketball player — maybe out of respect for the point guard brethren — but he did label Durant “phenomenal” and a “trend setter.”

“Trend breaker” might be a better way to describe him. After all, this is supposed to be a football school.