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Spotlight on Former Athlete: Dwayne Williams – Football 1983-86

Williams stayed local to play for Cajuns

 

 

By Bruce Brown

 

Written for Athletic Network

 

 

It occurred 28 years ago, but the memory still shines as if it were yesterday for Dwayne Williams.

 

His remarkable 222-yard rushing performance in the Superdome against the Tulane Green Wave served as the apex of Williams’ career with USL’s Ragin’ Cajuns.

 

The Rayne High product needed just 12 carries to gash the Wave for those 222 yards and two touchdowns, averaging a gaudy 18 yards per attempt.

 

Few athletes get the chance for such a signature moment that transcends time – for Williams, that 1986 contest was it.

 

That night, I remember I could see things, holes open up, and I’d think, ‘Just give me the ball. Let me do what I do,’ ” Williams said. “The offensive line did a tremendous job. They made things happen. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

 

A victory would have added to the enjoyment. Somehow, despite Williams’ night, and 191 more from freshman quarterback Brian Mitchell, and a 513-yard team rushing output, the Cajuns fell, 42-39.

 

Still, it was an unforgettable show.

 

You hate to come out on the short end, but even though we lost it was a heck of a game,” Williams said.

 

Williams led the Cajuns in rushing as a sophomore in 1984 with 460 yards, then added 524 more in coach Sam Robertson’s final year at the helm in 1985. When Nelson Stokley took over in 1986, Williams endured a diminished role in a new offense, netting just 373 yards but scoring 7 touchdowns.

 

Obviously, most of his senior-year totals came at Tulane.

 

In all, Williams gained 1,417 yards and scored 14 touchdowns in 310 carries for the Cajuns, adding 60 receptions for 497 yards and a pair of scores.

 

Although those are modest totals for someone who had been recruited by LSU, Texas, Texas A&M, Tulane, Miami, Mississippi State, SMU and Southern Miss, Williams is happy with his choice.

 

It all worked out,” Williams said. “I enjoyed my four years there. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. UL is a great school. I had a great time. We have the best fans in the world. It couldn’t have worked out better. I had a wonderful time.”

 

It was easy to see why Williams was courted by so many programs.

 

I had a productive senior year (at RHS), and my junior year was pretty good,” he said. “I accomplished a lot of what I set out to do. I wanted to play in the (LHSAA) High School All-Star Game, and I did, and I wanted to get a scholarship to college. If I hadn’t gotten the scholarship, I probably would have ended up in the Air Force.”

 

Williams served notice as a junior when his 326 yards rushing led the 3A Wolves over Class 4A Carencro. “That gave us the courage, to know we can win,” he said.

 

My senior year, we opened up and beat St. Thomas More. The headline read, ‘Williams beats Cougars.’ That’s wrong. It’s a team game. At Westlake, I had 100 yards before half and ended up with 260.

 

It was a great year. We finished 6-4 – lost 12-7 to Eunice for the district title, then lost to Jennings in the playoffs. Those two met in the state championship game in the Superdome.”

 

Williams stayed close to home for college largely because of his respect for coach Lewis Cook, his coach through his sophomore year at RHS, who became a Cajun assistant coach.

 

I had a real close relationship with coach Cook,” Williams said. “I knew he would not steer me wrong, and I don’t regret it at all.”

 

Cook, more comfortable in high school athletics and now at Notre Dame of Crowley, recently attained his 300th prep coaching victory. (He also has three state titles, one at Crowley and two at Notre Dame.) Williams was among those happy for Cook.

 

If anybody deserves it (300 wins), coach Cook does,” Williams said. “He always helps his players (to) be the best they can be. He’s one of the best in high school coaching. He brings out the best in his players, both on the field and in the classroom.

 

We’re still close. In fact, we go to the same church.”

 

If nothing else, Williams kept the faith and learned patience playing for the Cajuns.

 

Coming out of high school, you’re not used to sharing the load,” he said. “(At USL) I was always in and out of the game. I never got a feel for the game. You have different offenses, different coordinators. But you have to adapt to change, make the best of the situation.

 

It is what it is.”

 

That perspective began in childhood, when Williams’ mother raised six boys on her own.

 

She is my role model, my inspiration,” said Williams, the oldest of the six. “To endure the things she did to see that we had the things we needed … she is my everything.

 

I was the only one who went into athletics, believe it or not. I gave them something to talk about. When I was younger, I played a game called Hotball, where everybody gang-tackles the one with the ball. I was younger – 12-13, playing against 15-16-17 year olds – but I was quicker. Had to be.”

 

There might be another Williams capable of big things. Son Jalen recently played for Rayne and is at SLCC in industrial technology awaiting a chance to walk on with a college program and resume his father’s footsteps.

 

He is my ball player,” Williams said. “He’s got quickness and peripheral vision, reminds me of myself. He’ll make a play, and I’ll say, ‘I did that.’ ”

 

The similarities extend to their participation in prep track.

 

My senior year, I pulled my right hamstring in the 200 at the Gent Relays.”

 

Williams said. “I missed the state meet in the 200, although I went in the long jump. Jalen’s senior year, he pulled his right hamstring in the 200 at the Bear Paw Relays in Church Point and missed State. Same race, same leg for both of us.”

 

Despite those injuries, Williams added, “Track is where you get the speed you need. He went from a 4.6 to a 4.4 40 after one year of track.”

 

Williams is eager to help Jalen pursue his dream, especially since his worked out so well at UL.

 

I had not been to a game since I left,” he said. “Then this year I went to the Southern game, and I saw almost 50 percent of the guys I played with. It was amazing to see all of them at the game. I recognized them by their faces. We’re not getting any taller, just wider.

 

It made me feel like playing again. It brought back a whole bunch of memories.”

 

None sweeter than that 222-yard night nearly 30 years ago.

 

 

 

Dwayne Williams at USL

 

Rushing Att Yards TD

 

1983 19 60 0

 

1984 121 460 4

 

1985 112 524 3

 

1986 58 373 7

 

Totals 310 1417 14

 

 

Receiving Rec Yards TD

 

1983 8 93 1

 

1984 23 170 1

 

1985 7 37 0

 

1986 22 197 0

 

Totals 60 497 2

Click here for a photo of the 1985 running backs, which includes Dwayne Williams.

 

The 1985 football team is featured in the photo below, including Dwayne #4.

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Click here for the chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.