Williams, an honor student, says, "I like to throw the ball, but if we can run it just as well, it's O.K. with me. All I want is to get it across the goal line. When that happens, I'm satisfied. As for pro football, yeah, I want to play. I figure every day I go to practice, I'm not working up that sweat for nothing."
Against Jackson State last Saturday, Williams enhanced his NFL value with the finest performance of his career. Facing the nation's No. 1 defense—one that had sacked opposing quarterbacks 22 times and had intercepted the same number of passes—Williams was the dominant force in Grambling's 34-7 victory, completing 22 of 33 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns—without an interception. He also scored on a one-yard sneak. Late in the second quarter, Williams broke a 7-all deadlock by hitting three straight passes for 85 yards in a four-play, 89-yard drive that took just 82 seconds. He showed the same sort of confidence on the final touchdown of the day. After a 12-yard TD pass was nullified by a holding penalty, he hit Moore with a 27-yarder on the run for the score.
While Jackson mounted a good pass rush, Williams was sacked only once for four yards as he racked up much of his yardage on throws underneath the coverage, which, fearful of the bomb, played Grambling's receivers with too much cushion.
In other seasons, Williams realizes he would have had no chance for a Heisman. This year may be different, and if so, Williams acknowledges a debt to the players who preceded him at the small, predominantly black colleges. "In 1974," he says, "when Walter Payton was a senior, somebody mentioned him as a Heisman possibility and I laughed about it myself. A whole lot of other people also looked at it as a joke. But since Walter's been in the NFL, it is no longer a joke. Not only was he from a black school, but a small black school, Jackson State. They said, 'Hey, how could this cat be a Heisman Trophy winner when he doesn't play against the big competition?' But now he's playing against the same people who were supposed to be Heisman caliber—and he's leading the NFC in rushing. So I guess they have to give me and all the other small-school athletes some consideration.
"If I win it, I think it will make Payton happy. I hope so."
For that ambition, not just for his talent, Williams ranks No. 1.