Last time I checked, there are 26 letters in the English alphabet. Well as of today and today only, there are 26 days left until the start of the Oklahoma Sooners’ 2018 season! For today’s Countdown to Kickoff tribute, I want to reflect back on two players who made big plays look routine on both sides of the ball. I’m talking about running back Damien Williams and linebacker Jordan Evans.
Starting with Damien Williams, his college career began at Arizona Western Junior College. After transferring to Oklahoma in 2012, Williams quickly established himself as a big-play threat every time he touched the ball. As Williams ascended to the top of the Sooners’ depth chart, his opportunities increased, and so too did the big plays.
Ask any Sooner fan, and the single play that stands out to them from Williams’ career will more than likely be his 95-yard touchdown run against the Texas Longhorns, which is the longest rush by any player on either side of the Red River Rivalry.
For Williams, sure, it was the longest rush of his career, and it happened on one of the biggest stages in college football, but for the 2012 season, it was more or less just another day at the office. On the year, Williams led the FBS with four separate rushes of 65 yards or more, plus a 48-yard score against West Virginia.
In his senior year, Williams saw his playing time gradually diminish before ultimately being dismissed for violating team rules. In almost two full seasons at Oklahoma, Williams finished with 1,499 rushing yards, 410 receiving yards and 19 total TDs.
Fortunately for Williams, Bob Stoops welcomed Williams back to Oklahoma for Pro Day, where Williams was able to work out for NFL scouts ahead of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Damien Williams went undrafted, but signed with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent, where he played four seasons (‘14-’17). In March of 2018, Williams signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he has a chance to earn more playing time and carve out a nice role as a third-down back.
Now I’ll move on to the other side of the ball and talk about the other former No. 26, inside linebacker Jordan Evans.
Like Williams, Jordan Evans made big plays look commonplace, only he often did so without the ball in his hands. The Norman native, who played collegiately in his hometown from 2013 to 2016, led the Sooner defense with both his words and his play. For what the Sooners ran on defense, Evans was a pretty solid fit. He had enough size to defend in the run game, but he was agile enough to drop back in space and cover in the passing game.
One of those big plays Evans made came in the snowy contest in Morgantown during the 2016 season — Evans’ senior campaign. West Virginia’s feeble comeback attempt was stifled as Evans picked off an ill-advised throw and took it 80 yards to the house.
By the end of his career, Evans recorded 286 total tackles, 22.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks, five interceptions, four forced fumbles and a program-best for a linebacker 16 pass breakups. For his impressive senior season, Evans was named to the All-Big 12 First Team.
In the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Jordan Evans with the 193rd overall pick. He started four games as a rookie and aims for an increased role in 2018.
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