Damien Williams is an irreplacable offensive asset
Editor's Note: This is part five of a five-part series looking at Oklahoma football's top returning starters. The order does not dictate ranking.
When thinking about the top returning starters for the 2013 season, senior running back Damien Williams has to be at the focal point of the discussion. The talented rusher was the perfect compliment to the Sooners pass heavy offense last season, however, with the quarterback situation still up in the air, Williams role in the offense will increase to alleviate the uncertainty surrounding the quarterbacks dilemma.
The junior college transfer from Arizona Western quickly emerged as the feature back for the Sooners, playing in all 13 games, making nine starts. He racked up 946 yards on 176 attempts with 11 touchdowns. He also had 34 receptions for 320 yards and a touchdown. He posted six games with 90 or more yards on the ground and was the only player in the FBS to have four runs of 65 yards or more on the season.
Williams made his OU debut on the road against University of Texas at El Paso and immediately proved his offensive value, rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown on just ten carries. He would build on that performance the following week, recording his second straight 100 yard game and setting a school record for the most rushing yards in a home debut with 156 yards and four touchdowns on ten carries against Florida A&M.
However, it was his stellar performance against Texas in the Red River Rivalry game that put him in the national spotlight. Williams ran for 167 yards on 22 carries, including a career-long 95 yard touchdown run that proved that he was a threat to score anytime he touched the ball.
The San Diego native is also a valuable asset in the passing game, recording 3 games with five or more receptions. Towards the end of the season, injuries to his ankle hampered his performance a bit and prevented him from reaching the 1,000 yard plateau, but he managed to finish the season strong with 115 yards against TCU.
Williams has been considered one of the most explosive playmakers in the nation and the Sooners will need every bit of that explosion when they open the season against Louisiana-Monroe. The Sooners are stacked with offensive playmakers, however, the question of who will be leading this offense on opening day has yet to be decided.
The Sooners will be depending on their explosive rushing attack to help balance out their pass heavy offense, and with Damien Williams returning to the backfield, Sooner fans can expect more of the same game breaking plays that made him a top offensive threat.
Demetrius Kearney is a political science senior