NFF College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Ricky Williams
ASN will profile all 17 new members in advance of the Dec. 8 NFF awards dinner in New York City.
Ricky Williams had a flare for the dramatic, fulfilling the Hall of Fame prediction of ABC’s Brent Musburger when he broke Tony Dorsett’s long-standing career rushing record.
On that historic November day in 1998 during a 26-24 victory over Texas A&M, Williams didn’t keep the home crowd in Austin waiting long before he ripped off a late, first-quarter 60-yard touchdown run to eclipse Dorsett’s record.
Musburger’s call: “Williams breaks a hole…..Williams, hello record book. Ricky Williams runs to the Hall of Fame, cuts back. Ricky Williams touchdown! Sixty yards and the record is his. He does it in dramatic fashion…And a standing ovation for the king of the rushers.” Williams was on his way to a 259-yard rushing day.
With an unusually gaudy set of rushing records credited to his resume, Williams was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame the second year he was eligible. His career rushing record stood only a few months before Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne broke it.
“Making the College Football Hall of Fame is a lifelong dream,” Williams said. “I always had a dream of winning the Heisman Trophy. That was a tremendous honor, and now to be going into the Hall of Fame, with all the greatest players that have ever played, it’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
Although Williams, a native of San Diego, had a chance to leave for the NFL after his junior season, he elected to stay, pursue Dorsett’s record and play one season for UT’s first-year coach Mack Brown. He finished with 46 Texas records, including NCAA career records -- at the time-- for rushing yards (6,279), rushing touchdowns (72), total touchdowns (75), points scored (452), games with a touchdown (33), 200-yard rushing games (11) and rushing yards per carry (6.2).
The two-time unanimous All-America (1997 and 1998) becomes the 17th Longhorn player to be inducted into the Hall. Williams first encountered the College Football Hall of Fame when he went to the shrine, then in South Bend, Indiana, during his freshman season in 1995 before the Longhorns lost a road game to the Fighting Irish.
“We took a trip to the Hall of Fame,” recalled Williams, a two-time Big 12 Conference Player of the Year. “To me, it was a mind-blowing experience. We walked into a room that was pretty much dedicated to Coach Royal. And I got a great education. I remember at that moment, I started fantasizing and wondered what it would be like to be in the College Football Hall of Fame.”
Williams was the fifth overall pick by the New Orleans Saints in the 1999 NFL Draft. He went on to play a total of 11 seasons combined for the Saints, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens, eclipsing 10,000-yard mark as an NFL rusher (10,009).
Above: Ricky Williams stuck around at Texas so he could break Tony Dorsett's rushing record.
Williams has his own foundation in Austin, and he has served as an analyst on the Longhorn Network and as an assistant coach at the University of Incarnate Word. His jersey has been retired at Texas.