NORMAN — Damien Williams arrived at Oklahoma this summer excited to turn the page with one former gridiron rival.
Two star running backs for opposing San Diego teams from their pee-wee years through high school, Williams and Brennan Clay are now both OU juniors; they'll wear the same uniform for a change, and push each other in new ways to help bolster what they hope becomes a formidable Sooner backfield.
“I've been playing against Brennan since we were yay high, in pee wee,” Williams said Tuesday. “It's great to be here playing with him and not against him.”
Clay signed with Oklahoma out of Scripps Ranch High School in San Diego; Williams, from city rival Mira Mesa High, arrived in Norman via Arizona Western College.
“Him and I went out and we were battling until the fourth quarter,” Clay remembered of their epic high school battles. “I wanna say we put up four or five touchdowns each, and he got the better of me in the end, but it's all good.
“I know what he can do; he knows what I can do. We're going to feed off each other.”
Williams, though, certainly didn't expect to embrace two past football foes. So imagine his surprise when he happened upon Lacoltan Bester, the receiver who months earlier had scored twice for East Mississippi in its 55-47 win over Williams' Arizona Western squad to win the junior-college national championship.
Bester's visit to Oklahoma and quick signing of a letter of intent in May surprised many. Especially Williams.
“I was just like, ‘Oh, we played against you in the national championship,'” Williams said. “It was great to see him come here, knowing that he's another great receiver added on.”
In a coincidence that could've made the unplanned meeting awkward, Bester happened to be wearing his national title ring.
Despite that, both say the initial encounter was a warm one.
“The first thing that came up was the game, and I had my championship rings on,” Bester said. “We were just joking around about it. ... Hopefully we'll be able to bring our talents together and put some more rings on my finger, and hopefully get him some.”