You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In sports, fans and the media are sometimes quick to base their opinions on the first impressions of a player. If that's the case, then Shaud Williams made sure Alabama fans remembered him positively in his first start with the Crimson Tide.
A native of Andrews, Texas, Williams rushed for more than 7,700 yards and scored 87 touchdowns in high school. On the baseball diamond, Williams helped lead his team to a state championship. He was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 13th round of the 1999 MLB draft, but opted to play college football.
After rushing for 2,121 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior, Williams decided to stay in the Lone Star State and continue his football career at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
Williams led Texas Tech with 658 rushing yards with seven touchdowns in 1999 to earn Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors. His best game was when he set a Texas Tech freshman rushing record with 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 31-10 win over Colorado.
Under new head coach Mike Leach in 2000, Williams numbers declined with the emergence of Ricky Williams. After totaling 223 yards and two touchdowns, he decided to transfer to Alabama.
After sitting out a season due to the NCAA transfer rules, Williams was ready to debut in Tuscaloosa as a junior in 2002.
Williams rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown in his first game against North Texas. After a 135-yard rushing performance in the win over Southern Mississippi, Williams earned his first Alabama start in the SEC opener at Arkansas.
With the ball at Bama's own 20-yard line, Williams took the hand-off from quarterback Brodie Croyle on the first play of scrimmage. Eighty yards later, he was in the end zone for a touchdown that silenced the Razorback Stadium crowd. Later in the game, Williams also hauled in a 75-yard pass from Croyle. He finished with 119 rushing yards and 88 receiving yards as Alabama defeated Arkansas, 30-12.
Williams failed to reach 100 rushing yards over the next five games. His best game during that stretch was 52 rushing yards in a 30-8 win at Vanderbilt. Williams returned to his early season form on Nov. 16 at LSU.
Against the Tigers, Williams and teammate Santonio Beard both rushed for more than 100 yards in the Crimson Tide's 31-0 win. Williams' game-high 131 rushing yards equaled LSU's rushing total.
Two weeks later in the season-finale at Hawaii, Williams scored the first touchdown of the game and finished with a season-high 160 rushing yards in a 21-16 win. Alabama finished with a 10-3 record, but was not allowed to participate in a bowl game due to being on NCAA probation.
In his first season in Tuscaloosa, Williams led the Crimson Tide with 921 rushing yards with five touchdowns. As a rusher, receiver and punt returner, Williams led the Crimson Tide with 1,586 all-purpose yards.
The offseason between the 2002 and 2003 seasons was a tumultuous time in Tuscaloosa. After Franchione unexpectedly left for Texas A&M after the season, Mike Price was hired as head coach. But Price resigned in disgrace in May. Mike Shula eventually became the third Alabama head coach in six months.
While the coaching changes occurred in the football program, Williams played for the Crimson Tide baseball team in the spring of 2003.
In the season opener against South Florida, Williams rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns. His greatest contribution during the game came on special teams. Clinging to a 20-17 lead early in the third quarter, Williams returned a punt 73 yards for this third touchdown of the game en route to a 40-17 victory. For his performance, Williams was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
Two weeks later against Kentucky, Williams again earned offensive player of the week honors after rushing for a career-high 174 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-17 win.
Some of Williams other memorable games during the season included another 80-yard touchdown run in a 34-31 loss to Arkansas. In a 17-3 win over Southern Mississippi, he rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Williams carried the ball 40 times for 166 yards and a touchdown in a 51-43, five overtime loss to Tennessee. After three straight games with less than 100 yards rushing, Williams ended the season with 105 yards and a touchdown at Hawaii.
Williams led the SEC in 2003 with 1,367 rushing yards with 14 touchdowns. He also added 24 receptions for 161 yards and a touchdown. At the time, his rushing yard total was the third-highest single-season total in team history.
After his senior season, Williams was honored by the conference as an All-SEC Second Team selection. He was also a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, presented annually to the top running back in college football.
For his Alabama career, Williams totaled 2,288 rushing yards (10th all-time) and 3,310 all-purpose yards (10th all-time) with 20 touchdowns (19 rushing, 1 receiving).
Even though Williams led the SEC rushing in 2003, he was not selected in the 2004 NFL draft. He was eventually signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills. In his four seasons in Buffalo from 2004 to 2007, Williams appeared in 25 games, rushed for 330 yards and two touchdowns. He also totaled 20 receptions for 137 yards.
Williams reappeared with the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League in 2009. He has played for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL for the past two seasons.