FOOTBALL PREVIEW: 'Three-Headed Monster' Back For More
Power, patience, and pride define the Boston College backfield
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Andre Williams is tired. The Parkland High School track star just finished an exhausting and disappointing third place in the 110-meter hurdles at the Allentown Invitational. He doesn’t have time to rest, though, because the next race is the 100-meter dash, Williams’ best. He immediately jogs back to the starting line, readies himself, gets set, and goes.
‘’I’m tired right now, but at least I ran like I knew I could,” Williams, a senior at the time, would say after he completed the 100. “I didn’t have the race I wanted to in the hurdles, so I just used that disappointment to fuel my 100.”
Just 10.7 seconds later, Williams blew out his competition, earning a first-place finish and the area’s best time. For those people who look at the six-foot, 220-pound Williams, now a junior at Boston College and the Eagles’ starting running back, and just see a bruising power back, they’re in for a surprise.
“I guess that’s what they see me as because I’m big, so you don’t really see how fast I’m moving until you’re next to me on the field,” Williams said. “I don’t know who else is faster on the team than me.”
Tahj Kimble, one of his teammates and a fellow member of the BC backfield, confirmed that Williams’ speed can’t be matched, not even by Kimble himself, a smaller back known for his ability to break away from defenders with his quickness.
“No, no way,” Kimble said when asked if he is faster than Williams. “I’m not faster than him. He’s got it. I know that it’s crazy since he’s a power runner and I’m the flashy guy, so it’s supposed to be me with the speed, but no way, he’s got it.”
Williams attributes his hidden speed to the three years of track he ran in high school, especially the back-to-back races at most meets.
“It was kind of bad sometimes that it worked out that way, but it really got my stamina up,” Williams said. “Running the races back to back, it was actually kind of fun. Going out there and running the 110 hurdles and then jogging back to do the 100 again.”
Williams wasn’t just a star on the track. He made his loudest noise on Parkland’s football field when he arrived in Pennsylvania from Georgia heading into his junior season.
“[Andre] came in the spring before his junior year and came in with his mom and dad and everything—some people had actually called me and told me that, you know, he’s a heck of a football player and when he got here that certainly was the truth,” Parkland head coach Jim Morgans said. “He did a great job for us here. We were a Wing-T football team when he got here and that’s a pretty complex offense. His junior year it took him maybe the first three or four games to catch on the blocking schemes and so on and so forth, but once he got it he did a great job for us.”
Parkland lost the district championship game at the end of Williams’ junior season, and after the game Williams and another teammate set up a meeting in Morgans’ office.
“They said, ‘We don’t mean to be boastful, but we want to be the captains. We think we can take this team in the right direction next year.’ I’ve never had a kid do that before,” Morgans said. “He was absolutely a leader. As far as in the school, he did the same thing. Some guys can get a big head especially in high school, but he was nothing like that.”
As a captain, Williams dominated during his senior season.
“He was the man,” Morgans said. “He just took over. He rushed for almost 2,000 yards, and we’re very happy he’s at Boston College. He had offers from other places, but not as many as you would think, and I think the reason why is because of the transfer.”
Williams’ combination of speed and power was nearly impossible to stop at the high school level.
“He’s a runaway cement truck,” Morgans said. “He just was moving all over the place. He was very difficult to tackle, especially if he broke into the secondary. If he broke into the secondary, you know those guys are a little bit smaller and ’Dre is a big kid, a big fast back with a lot of movement, so when he got into the secondary he just broke so many tackles. When I say a lot of movement, I’m not saying necessarily jump moves or anything like that, but his body was moving all over the place. His shoulders were moving and he ran low. His legs are very big. He would deliver blows—it was actually fun to watch—a lot of times instead of breaking to the sidelines and trying to run away from a pursuer he would turn and run into them and knock them over. And we play in a pretty good conference here in eastern Pennsylvania.”
Williams has continued to look for the hit since making the jump to college ball.
“’Dre’s a big guy,” Kimble said. “He’s the type that will bang you here then bang you there and just run you over. He’ll give you a move sometimes, but he’s not really looking for that. He’ll just run right at you and let you know that he’s coming to run you over and that he’s coming for contact.”
“My mouth always waters a bit when I see cornerbacks or just DBs in general that are 200 pounds or under because I know they’re going to be feeling me a little bit in the game,” Williams said. “I look for the hit, but it’s also kind of a mind game you’ve got to play sometimes. In that first quarter, everybody is hype. Everybody is trying to hit you and everybody is trying to talk crap in your ear, but after that first quarter everybody is hurting a little bit and everybody’s a little nicked up and you’ve just got to show them that you’re going to have to deal with it for three more quarters. Sometimes when they think you’re going to deliver a hit, that’s when you can give them a move or shake them a little bit easier because they’re bracing for it.”
In BC’s season opener against Miami, Williams did just that. He pounded the Hurricane linebackers all game, and then late in the second half, when BC needed a first down, he broke through the line—but was faced with another Miami linebacker in his way. He ducked his head as if he was going to lay a hit, but as the defender approached, Williams juked left and broke free to pick up the first down.