Around this time last year, the name Andre Williams was unknown, and around this time last year, the man Andre Williams was filled with disappointment.
His collegiate football career was winding down quickly—his journey almost over. Boston College football had limped to the end of a miserable 2-10 season, and Williams—as the team’s leading rusher— finished the year with 584 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Something had to change.
“Christmas time is supposed to be a great time with your family,” Williams said on Saturday before the 2013 Heisman Trophy announcement. “But you turn on the TV and you just see everyone else playing in the bowl games, and it hurts because you know what your team is capable of, and things just weren’t coming together.”
For Williams and the Eagles, over the course of one year—and 12 games—everything changed, and Williams’ journey turned in a new direction.
On Saturday night, Florida State’s Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy, and Williams took fourth place in the voting with 470 points—but in many ways, the position he finished in didn’t matter. Williams’ mission had been fulfilled prior to Saturday.
Boston College football is back on the map.
“I wanted to be part of a senior class that really turned things around for Boston College football,” Williams said. Not only was Williams a part of that group—he was the leader. The stats are familiar at this point, but with 2,102 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, Williams rushed, stiff-armed, and shouldered his program back into relevance.
What’s more, he did it with a banged-up shoulder, unrelenting humility, and a smile on his face.
Case in point: with the spotlight shining on him Saturday night, the ever-humble Williams couldn’t stop talking about the five other players who made the trip to New York.
“It’s been great being around all these great players and just seeing what they’re like off the field,” Williams said. ‘They’re really interesting guys.”
Stifling chuckles, he shared anecdotes from the past few days. “I didn’t really know Jameis was such a funny guy,” Williams said. “We first went to dinner when we first got to New York and we’re sitting at the table, and I look over and he’s building a tower with the butter packets.”
A mischievous smile creeping onto his face, he divulged opinions about his peers. “I found out Johnny Manziel wears a size 15 shoe,” Williams said. “He’s a freaky guy.”
Ever-present with his humor and mellow demeanor, though, is the pride Williams has for his team and the respect he has for his school. Williams spoke of the Eagles’ journey and their dramatic turnaround, and expressed gratitude for the support he’s felt from his teammates—specifically his long-time roommate, Alex “Amitron” Amidon—over the course of his personal journey and explosion into the world of media attention. He stressed his pride in the fact that—like Doug Flutie before him—his Heisman attention has made BC football relevant.
For Williams, his love for the school is more important than school records, national awards, and other personal glory. If a BC freshman came in and broke all of his records, Williams said he’d be excited.
“I’m an alumni now, I can’t step back on the field after this season,” he said. “I’m looking to the younger Eagles to do something great and continue to drive BC football into the future.”
The final game that Williams plays in a maroon and gold BC uniform will take place on New Year’s Eve. Whether Williams rushes for 30 yards or 300 yards, his time as an Eagle will be a defining experience of his career and life, and his presence will be felt around Alumni Stadium for years to come.
“The thing about a legacy is it’s something that lasts,” Williams said. “It’s something that moves forward and grows.
“I think BC Football is on the up and coming, and is going to continue to rise. We’re going to continue to grow our recruiting base and bring in a lot of great players, and there’s already a lot of great young players there that are going to build on what we were able to do this year.”
The Williams legacy is already evident—today, a four-star running back announced that he was switching his commitment from Rutgers to BC.
Williams’ journey over the last year has taken him from national anonymity to mass recognition. He doesn’t know where he’ll be a year from now after pro day, the combine, and the NFL Draft, but in the immediate future, it’s back to exams and practice. As is typical of his character, he’s looking calmly at the future, and as always, his belief in BC football is unwavering.
“This is only the start,” Williams said. “This isn’t the height of it.”