Nearly two decades after arriving at The University of Texas, his influence is still being felt—and celebrated.
Before kickoff for the annual Orange and White Spring Football Jamboree on Sunday, UT Athletics unveiled the new Ricky Williams statue to the tens of thousands of cheering fans who arrived early to show their love for the former Longhorn great.
“Today was a great day,” Coach Mack Brown said after the game. “It started with history—what a great crowd for Ricky Williams.” Brown was one of many speakers who praised Williams at the unveiling, including Joe Jamail, former teammate Wayne McGarity, famed commentator Brent Musberger, and men’s athletics director Deloss Dodds.
Williams, the former Heisman Trophy winner, said he the statue isn’t just about him—instead, it should serve as an inspiration to current and future Longhorn players. “I want [other players] to look at that and say, ‘I want mine to be right next to Ricky’s or right next to Earl [Campbell’s].’”
Once playing commenced, the current Longhorn players seemed to take Williams’ message to heart, as a focused running game became the story of the game. Running backs Joe Bergeron, DJ Monroe, Jeremy Hills, and Malcolm Brown all looked solid in limited action, and with the addition of five-star recruit Jonathan Gray in the Fall, the running game has the potential to be dominant.
Quarterback play, however, has been the downfall of Longhorn fans since Colt McCoy’s departure. On Sunday, David Ash took the majority of the snaps with the first team offense, and looked sharp going 5-6 with 83 yards and a touchdown, though he wasn’t asked to do much. Case McCoy, on the other hand, had a much tougher day. With two interceptions, and one more that was dropped, McCoy’s decent second half probably won’t be enough to shake the doubts from many fans’ minds that Ash should be the starter.
Coach Brown, though, doesn’t see it that way. In the postgame, he was still adamant that they haven’t made any decision on quarterback, and he still hopes to utilize each player’s talents. “We will continue to work on QB,” Brown said. “There’s a chance that both of those guys can play and help us win.”
There’s still plenty of time to figure out roster spots before the season begins, and though fans were treated to some exciting football on Sunday, the day really belonged to Ricky Williams. In his four years on campus, Williams accumulated 46 school records, 21 NCAA records, and a Heisman Trophy, helping elevate an already historic football program into the highest echelon of college football.
“I came here for the college football experience and I got that and a million times more,” Williams said during a Friday press conference. “It was really special, my time here.”
The statue was created by a fellow member of the Longhorn family. Sculptor David Deming is a former department chair of Art and Art History who became dean of the College of Fine Arts before leaving to become president of his alma mater, the Cleveland Institute of Art.
Now the statue can serve as a daily reminder that we gave Williams as much as he gave to us, which is what makes The University of Texas such a special place. Thanks for the memories, Ricky.
Ricky Williams, his family, and his new statue. Photo courtesy UT Athletics.