Football
David Williams Represents Illinois in the College Football Hall of Fame

Dec. 29, 2005


AUDIO - Illinois All-American WR David Williams talks about his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame and his career with the Orange and Blue

Williams and other Hall of Famers to be introduced at Fiesta Bowl-- Read Story


What They're Saying About Hall of Famer David Williams...


Mike White (Illinois Coach: 1980-1987)

"When you mention any of the Williams Clan---as I called them---it brings back many great memories because they were the cornerstone of Illinois football for many years. Their enthusiasm, personalities and performance of all three of them were amazing. They came out of a not-so-easy area in California and had enough faith in each other and what we were doing to follow each other.

"David was the most gifted of all of them. This is certainly a tremendous honor for him and for the University of Illinois. He was just one of those guys who we say, `Gets the job done.' He was as good a receiver as any of us ever coached in our collegiate career. He was a great leader, could catch any type of pass and he had fun playing.

"I remember the one year we were trying to get him 100 passes, I learned more about him then than ever. He really didn't want to be the focus and he really wanted to just be part of the team. He was the ultimate competitor, so durable, so dependable and the quarterbacks we had during those years knew they could always count on him."


Jack Trudeau (Illinois Quarterback: 1982-1985)

"I think the thing that sticks out more than anything is that whenever we needed a big play, David was the guy that was there to make it.

"I think the play that sticks out in my mind more than any--and believe me there were many plays--was a play against Michigan, and it's not the play that he scored the big touchdown on that I think a lot of the Illini fans would remember, but a play early in that game. I looked one way, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw him stick his hand up. We had gotten to know each well enough where I knew when that hand went up he wanted the football. I turned and threw it without knowing who was around, but I had so much trust in the guy and I believed what he could do, and of course he came down with it. He made playing quarterback a lot more fun and he was one of the best players to play the game, particularly in that era."


Tim Brewster (Illinois Tight End: 1982-1983)

"When I think of David, I also think of his brother, Oliver, who I played with as well. The two of them just had tremendous personalities, a lot of talent and really brought vitality and exuberance to the program. Both of those guys were fantastic players, great people and really added to the incredible excitement we had in Champaign.

"His biggest strength as a wide receiver was his toughness and his desire to catch the football. He wanted the football and when the ball was in the air, David was tremendously competitive in going to get it. He didn't have great speed, but he was an elusive player after the catch. He was a young Terrell Owens kind of guy before Terrell.

"The biggest thing for me about David was his consistency. He was a very, very consistent player and every Saturday that he lined up he was going to make plays and get the job done."


Brad Childress (Illinois Wide Receivers Coach: 1981-1984)

"David was a great competitor and he loved to play the game of football. He certainly had a swagger about him and he believed he was good, but you know what, I would rather have that in an athlete than anything. He broke his shoulder the first year, and then the next year he came back and talked about what he was going to do to everybody and he really didn't buy into the system. He kind of did his own thing and he spent some time that first year down on the scout team to get his mind right.

"He had a big body---a tall, tall guy with great top-end speed. He could catch the ball in the crowd, but he also had a little bit of a `wiggle' that could make you miss and he caught all of our shallow crossing stuff.

"He was a great kid who came from a great family."


Cam Benson (Illinois Wide Receiver: 1980-1983)

"David Williams was elusive. He was probably the most elusive wide receiver that ever played at the University of Illinois. I never doubted the fact that Dave would eventually become a major contributor to the tradition of wide receivers for the University of Illinois and I think he ended up as the greatest wide receiver ever to put on the Illinois uniform.

"He didn't have flat out speed, but he had the uncanny ability to locate the dead spots in the defense. Dave not only had the ability to be enthusiastic, but he also had the ability to express the confidence or the cockiness that we needed at that time to really get us going in a game. Whether it was a catch or a comment to an opposing defensive back, he really encouraged a lot of things we were able to do as wide receivers.

"I always thought he was the main ingredient to the Run for the Roses we had during that year, and as a senior it was refreshing to know that we had someone who had the intensity to win as much as the seniors who wanted to win that year.

"The one catch that I always think about is the one he caught against Michigan in 1983 to start the fourth quarter. He caught the pass over the middle and then he did what I think was the first dive into the end zone that anyone had ever seen at the time. That catch alone displayed what I thought he always had---he was elusive in getting past the linebackers and defensive backs and to culminate the fact that he was going into the end zone he takes a dive from the three to get in."


Craig Swoope (Illinois Defensive Back: 1982-1985)

"He was a tremendous receiver---tall, athletic, and he could catch anything thrown his way. This is such an honor for him and I am glad to have known him and to have at one time roomed with him. He deserves it, because he had a great career at Illinois.

"The defensive backs and wide receivers battled every day, and Dave was always very confident---he was a cocky kind of guy, but he could back it up with his play and he did back it up every Saturday. When I think about Dave, I always think about the reception he had against Michigan when he caught it across the middle, ran up the sidelines and dove in the end zone.

"He made his living catching the short passes and the little drag passes across the middle. He was very tough and I remember one time he had a bad elbow with bursitis and he was just a very tough guy. He would always get hit real hard, but he would always get back up and brush himself off. If you got him once and got him mad you were in for a long day.

"Dave always had you laughing. He is a funny guy and a great person to be around."


Mike Heaven (Illinois Defensive Back: 1981-1984)

"David and I did a lot of things together away from the field. He was always one of the group clowns that always made people laugh and he was always the guy in practice that made you get better. He had that California swagger and a lot of us had that Florida swagger, so we always went at it. He won some days, we won some days and there were some days when it got really heated, but we really enjoyed it and it never affected our friendship off the field.

"The best thing about David Williams had nothing to do with anything he did on the football field---it was a locker room issue. Dave brought so much confidence to the locker room and he was like a brother in there. He gave everybody the confidence we needed to get over the hump. When you had a bad play and you were down, he always encouraged you.

"I can't single out any one play or great game that Dave had in college, because he had so many of them. He always told us all the time, `There is nobody out there who could cover me like you guys do in practice. You guys are always making me better.'


Donnie Passmore (Illinois Wide Receiver: 1981-1984)

"Dave had a huge heart; hwanted to win. He had a great mentor in his brother, Oliver. Dave played on the football field like he was always trying to prove something and it was more so to himself than anyone else. He had this inside burning desire to do his best and to win.

"He had a lot of bravado and confidence on the football field, but off the field, he was somewhat quiet and withdrawn with people he didn't know. Now with some of his football compadres he was always cracking jokes, laughing and having a good time. But if he was in a setting where he was the only football player there, he was a little shy and withdrawn.

"The guy was the perfect prototype wide receiver. He was tall, he was long and lanky, he had good speed and he had incredible hands. If you threw it to him, he was going to go get it. Not only was he real good when it came to catching the ball and making the big play he was also very good at turning a 10-12 yard out into a 50-yard touchdown. Dave definitely had some magic after he caught the ball.

"When you think about David Williams you pretty much can sum him up with one word---toughness! He was a tough guy; he took some incredible shots going over the middle and he would always pop right up. When one of the defensive backs stuck Dave real well after he caught the pass, Dave would pop right back up off the turf because I think he never wanted to give the mental edge to the defender."


Bob Gambold (Illinois Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach: 1983-1991)

"We used David all the time in the slot in what we called the West Coast Offense. We put him in a position where he was mostly one-on-one, and he was a great possession receiver. Most of the time he caught 8 to 10-yard patterns off of a hook or an in/out, but a lot of times he would find a way to turn those short passes into big gains.

"When you think about what he did at Illinois with all of the big plays, games and to think about him catching 101 passes in one season--that's incredible. He was one of the best receivers I ever had the chance to coach."

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