NORMAN — One cut is all Damien Williams gets. No dancing in the hole.
One cut and go.
Tom Minnick still sees Williams doing that in the new film he's watched of his former player. The Arizona Western College coach watched Williams break away on runs many times during his two years at the junior college in the desert.
He's never seen Williams get caught.
“He just has a speed that is deceptive,” Minnick said.
Williams was recruited by Oklahoma to help at running back. He was supposed to be the supplement to last year's star, Dominique Whaley.
Instead, Williams turned into the standout. He's this year's version of Whaley, and he's turning heads by breaking big runs on a small number of carries and, after two games in an OU uniform, leading the nation in yards per carry.
And the thing is, Minnick said, he's even greater than most people in Oklahoma believe.
Minnick knows what Williams is capable of bringing to the Sooners. He and his coaching staff laugh at the small amount of carries they've seen on the final stat sheet.
“If he can get the ball 20, 25 times he's going to make Oklahoma better, because now they have the quarterback that can throw on play action and a running back that can carry the load,” Minnick said. “He got the ball 45-50 times here in one game, so I know he can do it.”
The truth is, Oklahoma doesn't really yet know what it has in Damien Williams. That's not because the Sooners aren't looking, it's because they've only spent two months around Williams, running backs coach Cale Gundy said.
“You watch him on film and junior-college film and you see he's a good player, but I'm not there,” Gundy said. “So now I've had a chance to really find out that he really did have that passion …”
Gundy does think Williams needs to get the ball more, and so do fullback Trey Millard and wide receivers Trey Metoyer and Kenny Stills. Gundy said Williams still has a long way to go.
But Williams has come a long way from his 10th-grade year, when his mom refused to let him play football. He had to improve his grades. She moved him to Mira Mesa High School in San Diego for his final two years, where he raised his grades, but not enough to go to Arizona State. That's how he ended up at Arizona Western. When Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson was fired, Williams was released from his commitment, and Oklahoma came calling.
Maybe Williams' longest way to go remains his next trip between handoff and the end zone.
Williams, who said he can run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, can also play in the slot, return punts or even play safety. However, his potential has yet to be seen, and Minnick knows this is just the beginning.
“Oklahoma has no clue what they got yet,” Minnick said, “but I think they're starting to figure it out.”