RB Williams makes quick impact for No. 5 Oklahoma
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — When Oklahoma experienced a mini-exodus at the running back position last year, the search for reinforcements began.
One game into this season, the fifth-ranked Sooners (1-0) may have found their man. Damien Williams became only the eighth player in Oklahoma history to crack 100 yards rushing in his debut.
A San Diego high school star, Williams led the National Junior College Athletic Association in scoring and rushing last season at Arizona Western College. Right away, he's been able to fill a void left when three reserves transferred from Oklahoma last season.
"If it wasn't for people leaving or injuries or anything, who knows? I probably wouldn't be here," Williams said. "But all I know is I'm here now, so I'm ready to roll."
After the Sooners struggled for three quarters in their opener at UTEP, Williams finally put the game away with a 65-yard touchdown run around the right end and then angling back toward the left corner of the end zone. The score made it 24-7 and provided some cushion on a night when Oklahoma couldn't get much going offensively.
Until Williams' long run, the Sooners were averaging just 3.4 yards per carry.
"Whatever the line wants to give me, that's what I'm going to take," Williams said. "If it's the hard yards, I'm going to take the hard yards. If it's open, I'm going to take it all the way if I can."
Williams did plenty of that last season at Arizona Western, leading the NJCAA with 188 points (31 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion) and 1,931 yards rushing, or 160.9 per game. His Matadors made it to the national championship game before losing.
Along the way, Williams caught the eye of Sooners running backs coach Cale Gundy, who had a void to fill in the backfield.
Reserves Jermie Calhoun and Jonathan Miller transferred out of Oklahoma's program last September, and freshman Brandon Williams — an Under Armour All-American in high school — left for Texas A&M after playing in a fill-in role once starter Dominique Whaley was lost for the season to a broken ankle.
"We weren't looking for any junior college running backs, and then a couple guys felt they'd be best off playing somewhere else, so then we got in the hunt," Gundy said. "We were fortunate to get in and get a guy who's potentially got a chance to be a good player for us."
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