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Damien Williams even surprised his teammates with Saturday’s touchdown run

by Jason Kersey Published: September 5, 2012
Oklahoma running back Damien Williams ran for a 65-yard touchdown in the season-opening win at UTEP. PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN
Oklahoma running back Damien Williams ran for a 65-yard touchdown in the season-opening win at UTEP. PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN
NORMAN — Damien Williams surprised even his teammates Saturday.

“A lot of guys look at me as the heavy back because I weigh more than everyone else,” said Williams, a junior-college transfer from Arizona Western. “When I was able to break away, everyone came back with ‘I didn’t know you had it in you.’

“I was like, there’s more to come, so don’t be so surprised next time.”

With about three minutes remaining in Oklahoma’s season opener at UTEP, Williams took a handoff from quarterback Landry Jones, ran to his right and cut upfield. When fullback Trey Millard took out a Miner defender with a low block, Williams saw a big hole open up.

“My eyes got big and I said, ‘Oh yeah; I know I’m going all the way,’” Williams said.

He took off for a 65-yard score that sealed the Sooners’ 24-7 season-opening win. Williams finished with 10 carries for 103 yards.

“He has really learned the offense really, really fast,” said running backs coach Cale Gundy. “He’s really picked it up really well. I’ve been really impressed with him. He knows everything. He really does.”

Williams led all junior-college backs last season in rushing yards and helped carry Arizona Western to the JUCO national championship game.

Oklahoma wasn’t in the market for a junior-college running back, Gundy said, but last fall, after Jermie Calhoun, Jonathon Miller and Brandon Williams all left the program, the Sooners started looking.

“We were fortunate to get in and get a guy whose potentially has a chance to be a good player for us,” Gundy said.

Williams’ powerful running style adds a new dimension to the Sooners’ offense, and compliments the other two backs in the rotation — senior returning starter Dominique Whaley and junior Brennan Clay.

Whaley returned Saturday from a severe ankle injury suffered in the middle of last season and ran the ball 11 times for 54 yards.

“I thought Dom did OK,” Gundy said. “I think he was a little rusty. He hasn’t played in so long, and that’s to be expected.

“He’s looked really good in practices. He just hasn’t been in many game situations. He’ll be OK and get better and better and get back to his form.”

Still, having a player like Williams certainly helps ease coaches’ minds.

For Williams, he played Saturday in front of “probably the biggest crowd” of his life, and he knows it’s going to be much bigger for Saturday’s home opener against Florida A&M.

“Oklahoma has way more fans and I still have things to look at and prepare for,” he said. “The main goal is for me to get on the field and ball out.

“I love playing for the crowd and playing for the team. I feel great playing in front of this crowd and making them happy.”

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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