Who in the World Is Heisman Trophy Finalist Andre Williams?

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2013

Getty Images

We all know that Andre Williams, Boston College's star running back and one of the six Heisman Trophy finalists, is the nation's leading rusher. We know he's racked up over 2,000 yards rushing this season and is the only player in the FBS to do so. We know he's had one of the best seasons of any player in college football this year. 

And yet, we don't.

Just ask yourself, how many Boston College Eagles games did you catch on ESPN this year? How many times did you watch Williams craft one of his masterpieces in 2013?

The Eagles are just 7-5 this year, which is a big reason why Williams is being widely overlooked as a legitimate candidate for the country's top individual honor. But Williams is having a year that doesn't just stand out among his peers this season; it is also among the best in college football history.

Since 1977, only eight players have run for more yards in a season than Williams. If he rushes for at least 84 yards in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl against Arizona, that number will go down to three.

Most Rushing Yards Since 1977
PlayerRushing YardsYearSchool
Barry Sanders2,6281988Oklahoma State
Kevin Smith2,5672007UCF
Marcus Allen2,4271981USC
Troy Davis2,1851996Iowa State
LaDainian Tomlinson2,1582000TCU
Mike Rozier2,1481983Nebraska
Matt Forte2,1272007Tulane
Ricky Williams2,1241998Texas
Andre Williams2,1022013Boston College

A product of Parkland High School in Allentown, Pa., Williams was rated as just a 3-star back by Rivals. He had offers from four schools—Boston College, Akron, Temple and Vanderbilt—before signing with the Eagles in 2009.

Williams appeared in all 13 games as a freshman, earning 95 touches for 461 yards. His numbers slowly trended upward through his junior year. Then, this season, they skyrocketed.

Andre Williams' Career Stats
Boston College official website

In the season's first two weeks, Williams racked up 318 yards and was already closing in on his entire junior year totals. After a lackluster showing against USC followed by a solid performance versus Florida State, Williams made his first big statement of the year with five touchdowns and 263 yards against Army.

Williams has rushed for 200 yards or more in a game five times this year, but no game was better than the Eagles' 38-21 win against NC State. In that Nov. 16 contest, Williams had 339 yards and averaged over eight yards per carry, adding two touchdowns. 

What's crazy about Williams' performance in the regular season is that it was cut short. Against Syracuse, he injured his shoulder and was forced to leave the game with only 29 yards on nine carries.

According to USA Today's Mark Blaudschun, head coach Steve Addazio said Williams will play in the bowl game, adding: "Playing on New Year's Eve is great because it gives him more time to heal along with the other guys, so everybody should be ready to roll." 

Nov 16, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston College Eagles tight end Mike Naples (89) and offensive linesman Bobby Vardaro (76) congratulate running back Andre Williams (44) after a touchdown against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during the first quarter at
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Williams' season is that he's been able to have this type of success despite the fact that every defense knows Williams is just going to pound it straight ahead.

The Eagles are just 113th in the nation in passing, with 150.5 yards per game in that department. Quarterback Chase Rettig has 1,804 yards through the air this year and hasn't thrown for 300 yards in a game yet.

Maybe that's why Williams is so appreciative of his offensive line. Per Blaudschun, if Williams ends up winning the Heisman Trophy, he will literally share it with his linemen. 

"If I actually win the Heisman, I will chop it up and give each of them a piece of the trophy," he said.

Williams is easily the biggest reason the Eagles are bowl-bound for the first time in three seasons. He is the most important player on any BCS team, and that includes Jameis Winston, who has way more talent around him in Tallahassee.

That's why he's a Heisman Trophy finalist. And that's why he is more than deserving of winning the award.