High expectations plagued Malcolm Williams’ career

Trey Scott

Malcolm Williams should have been dominant. He would have been a future NFL receiver. He could have been big this year.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Williams’ four-catch, 182-yard, two-touchdown game, the only silver lining in a 2008 loss to Texas Tech, was no small introduction. It had people buzzing; here’s the second coming of Roy Williams, and Texas’ best big receiver since Limas Sweed. The perfect compliment to Jordan Shipley. He can be a quarterback’s favorite toy. Look at that body. Look at that speed, that leaping ability.

What happened?

Williams’ career unfairly became not a story of what he did, but what he could do. Oh, we saw flashes after his performance as a redshirt freshman against Tech. He caught nine balls for 132 yards as a sophomore in a big Texas A&M game, snagged a long Hail Mary versus Florida Atlantic last year, was always monster on special teams. Each of those games showed he had the ability to make an impact game-by-game and not be just a one-game-a-season force. He never tied it all together, despite offseason after offseason in which we heard murmurs that Williams was ready to break out.

He could not match that breakout performance against Tech — though that would be pretty tough to do, considering his 182-yard-performance ranks sixth in UT’s single-game record books. But not much ever came close either. It’s not necessarily Malcolm’s fault, just the nature of the expectations beast: “I’ve seen you do it once. Now, do it again. And again.”

The news that his Longhorn career is over is uncomfortable (Williams is doing the right thing in dealing with his family situation and his academics, those should always come before football). He was going be an offensive factor as a senior this upcoming season, but not a big one. He was not to be confused with the team’s top pass-catcher, and was going to be a halfback — so he wouldn’t have even ended his career as a true wideout. The Longhorns will miss his leadership and great special teams ability, but it’s not an absence that will be lamented. In 2008, Williams finished sixth on the team in receptions. In 2009, his best year, he ended the season as the Longhorns’ fourth-leading receiver. The 2010 season saw a regression of sorts with just 24 receptions.

He was a great big-play threat, with a career average of 15 yards per catch. On the other hand, Williams had career-long problems with dropped passes with three crucial ones against Alabama. If he could have put it all together — the 6-foot-3 body, excellent athletic ability and toughness — he could have been more than a one-trick pony. Let him beat his defender, throw it long and pray he catches it.

Perhaps senior running back Fozzy Whittaker spoke best on behalf of Longhorn Nation the day it was announced that Williams had decided to hang ‘em up:

“We thought Malcolm could hopefully be one of those NFL-type receivers for us this year.”

Didn’t pan out like that. Never quite has.

Printed on Monday, August 8th, 2011 as: Williams never able to reach full potential