Former Razorback David Williams, picked by Denver Broncos in NFL Draft, realizes dream

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, April 29, 2018
Arkansas running back David Williams carries the ball during a game against New Mexico State on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas running back David Williams carries the ball during a game against New Mexico State on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- David Williams came to Arkansas last summer as a graduate student looking to have a strong enough season to propel him toward the NFL ranks.

Mission accomplished.

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The Denver Broncos selected Williams with the eighth pick of the seventh round, pick No. 226 overall, at the NFL Draft on Saturday.

"David Williams, our final pick in the draft, is a big, bruising running back from Arkansas," John Elway, Denver's president of football operations, wrote on his Twitter account. "He plays with great effort and we're glad to make him a Denver Bronco."

The 6-foot, 224-pound Williams was lightly used in three seasons at South Carolina, but he graduated from the school in Columbia, S.C., and found a home in the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville backfield.

Williams led the Hogs with 656 rushing yards, 827 all-purpose yards, 8 rushing touchdowns and 10 total touchdowns in 2018 and made an impression on NFL scouts.

"I always had the talent," Williams said on a conference call with Denver media. "I just never had the opportunity to really show it. Once I got to Arkansas, I got the opportunity to show and express my game more. I just felt more comfortable in a pro-style offense."

The native of Philadelphia made only one start, but he showed versatility as a back who had a knack for falling forward, wriggling for extra yardage and catching passes. He had 10 receptions for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Williams told Denver media that the call from the Broncos, when he was also talking to NFL teams about potential free agent deals, "blew my mind."

Williams heads to a franchise that already has Philadelphia natives in safety Will Parks (University of Arizona) and linebacker Zaire Anderson (University of Nebraska).

"We all grew up together, played little league together, high school against each other," Williams said. "It's crazy. It's my second home, basically. I get to come in and be comfortable with guys that I already have a relationship with. They can show me the ropes."

Williams rushed for two touchdowns against Florida A&M, Texas A&M and Missouri, and he had one of his better performances against the Gamecocks, when he had a rushing touchdown and caught a 16-yard pass that was originally called a 23-yard touchdown before a booth review ruled he had stepped out of bounds.

Williams told the Denver reporters his style is versatile.

"I think I can do everything out of the backfield," he said. "I'm a great pass protector. I catch well out of the backfield. I can also run in between the tackles with elite speed to get away if I'm getting chased."

Williams averaged a career-high 5.8 yards per carry in his one season with the Razorbacks.

In three seasons at South Carolina, where he transitioned from a four-star signee for Coach Steve Spurrier to the Will Muschamp regime, Williams compiled 794 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

Williams was the second and final Arkansas player taken in the draft, joining first-round choice Frank Ragnow of the Detroit Lions, making it the fewest Razorbacks selected since guard Mitch Petrus of Carlisle was the only Arkansas player taken in 2010.

Williams was not the only running back the Broncos drafted this weekend, as Denver also picked Oregon's Royce Freeman in the third round Friday.

Former Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen signed a free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A Fayetteville native and two-year starter, Allen completed 105 of 187 passes for 1,427 yards, with 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 2018.

Former Arkansas cornerback Henre Toliver has agreed to sign with the Indianapolis Colts, per SBNation. The Marrero, La., native tied for the team lead with three interceptions, ranked seventh with 43 tackles and had a fumble return for a touchdown as a senior.

Sports on 04/29/2018

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