The best wide receiver in BU history?

December 18, 2012

A year ago this time, if the average Baylor fan knew of Terrance Williams, it was only as the man on the receiving end of Robert Griffin III's Heisman moment -- the last-second touchdown pass to upset No. 5 Oklahoma in front of a national ESPN audience.

But what does Williams remember most from the game?

"Mainly me dropping the pass before that," he said, referring to a third-quarter play in which he bobbled a long throw that likely would have been a touchdown; two plays later, the drive ended without points. "It just left me down the whole time. Rob and the whole team kept talking to me, telling me something good was going to happen. [On the final play,] I saw Robert throw the ball, and I just had to make a play no matter what."

This fall, Williams has done his best to make sure that he's remembered for much more. Just a year after Kendall Wright left for the NFL holding virtually every BU receiving record and as the consensus choice for best receiver in Baylor history, Williams' work on the field indicates it might be time to pass on that title.

Just take a look at the recordbooks, where Williams has surpassed Wright's records for receptions (single-game), receiving yards (single-game and season), and all-purpose yards (single-season and career) and was within range of three more marks (single-season and career receiving touchdowns and single-season receptions) entering the Holiday Bowl.

With that game yet to go, Williams led the nation in receiving yards and receiving yards per game, and with an outstanding game could become only the second 2,000-yard receiver in NCAA history.

Such numbers made Williams just the sixth unanimous All-American in program history and one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation's top receiver. (A year ago, Wright was "only" a

semifinalist for the Biletnikoff and a second-team All-American.)

What does it all mean to Williams?

"That's something I'll probably think about later, because right now, I'm just thinking about trying to win," he said about such honors early in the season. "That type of stuff just goes straight out the window if we don't win."

Making Williams' performance all the more impressive is the fact that the 6-foot-2 receiver only began playing football as a freshman in high school.

"Basketball was my first sport," he recalled. "My freshman year in high school, my brother told me to just go on and give [football] a shot, and it worked out."

Williams redshirted as a true freshman in 2008 to get a little more time to learn the game. The following year, he played in all 12 games, seeing some action at receiver but primarily serving as the Bears' top kick returner during the second half of the season. Williams was low on the depth chart behind some pretty prolific receivers in Wright (then a sophomore) and senior David Gettis (now with the Carolina Panthers).

Williams acknowledges now that it was tough waiting his turn, but that "there was still stuff I needed to learn and work on before it was my time. I learned to be more consistent. Kendall taught me to be in the right spot at the right time, and David taught me how to manage a game -- that if stuff goes wrong, to just keep playing."

Williams became the Bears' No. 3 receiver in 2010 and then RG3's No. 2 option (after Wright) as a junior, helping the Bears to their first bowl selection and then first bowl win in nearly two decades.

Now his efforts are a major part in Baylor making its third straight bowl appearance, a first in program history.

"We came here to turn the program around," said Williams, a member of head coach Art Briles' first recruiting class at Baylor. "We knew that wasn't going to happen overnight, and we just kept taking strides year by year to turn things around."

Williams is expected to join his former teammates in the NFL next season, potentially giving the Bears' their fifth first-round pick in the last three drafts.

"I haven't had a chance to think about [the future] yet," he said prior to the Holiday Bowl. "When the time comes, then it will be pretty fun to think about, but I'm too nervous to think about it right now because I still want to be in the college phase.

"I'm honored to have played in the green and gold my [entire] college career with a great band of brothers and great fans."

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