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August 29, 2011
After spring and summer camps in which De'Antwan Williams repeatedly proved he is still the four-star running back Greg Schiano recruited to Rutgers and not the back who toiled on the sidelines for two seasons, one play stands out among the rest.
Williams took the field in a situational setting with the Scarlet Knights' first-team offense, which all agreed: "Let's get off this field, hurry up and score."
Quarterback Chas Dodd gave the play call -- a run for Williams.
"And on the first play I popped one," he said.
Rutgers fans saw Williams pop long runs before. He had 44-yard runs against Howard and Texas Southern and a 31-yard scamper against Norfolk State.
But if it was not the fourth quarter and it was not against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent, there was little chance Williams would see the field.
He appeared in 12 games in his career, but 290 of his 346 career rushing yards came against those three teams.
Rutgers faces another FCS opponent in its Thursday night opener against North Carolina Central, but Williams will see the field well before the fourth quarter.
He very well could get the first touch.
"It would mean a lot. Over the years that was what I wanted to do, and to finally do it would mean a lot to me," Williams said. "I feel like it would be a good reward for me. I've put everything on the line and done everything in my power that I can do."
That includes gaining a better understanding of the playbook and placing more of an emphasis on picking up blitzes to become a more complete back.
But he also credits offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti and his pro-style offense with making him feel comfortable and putting him in position to use his talents.
"That has a lot to do with it," Williams said. "The pro-style offense is what I'm used to, and everything just came together."
Williams remembers his first conversation with Cignetti, who coached Jahvid Best at California and Dion Lewis at Pittsburgh.
"He was telling me about the great running back he's been with and how the offense gives us the best opportunity to be successful," Williams said. "He knew what type of running back I was and it just came together."
More than anything, Williams knows he has the ability to do well this season.
Entering his junior season with more optimism than ever, he at least has an opportunity.
"It's confidence," he said. "Coming in with a good spring and summer, I'm confident. I know I can do it after going out and doing it every practice."