Former Rickards OL standout Williams Makes FAMU’s HOF
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Ken Riley just wanted to be sure.
As former FAMU football coach, he recruited offensive lineman Wally Williams out of Rickards High School, where he had a reputation of being big and agile.
Riley projected the freshman to be a starter for the 1989 season. So he matched Williams against Ervin Clark, a ferocious nose guard, in a one-on-one drill.
What transpired validated all that Riley had seen and heard about Williams.
“Wally made his presence known at that time,” Riley recalled. “After that matchup, it was obvious because he was a dominating person.”
Williams continued to be so dominating that the landed in the NFL as a free agent and ended up spending 10 successful seasons in the league.
Williams, now a CBS sportscaster in Baltimore, will return home Sept. 25 to be bestowed the highest honor FAMU gives a former athlete with his induction into the school’s Hall of Fame.
Two other football players under Riley – kicker Vaughn Wilson and return specialist Howard Huckaby – also will be enshrined.
Former basketball star John Andrews and track and field standout Kenneth Thompson also will be inducted in ceremonies at the Lawson Center. Trainer Akima Abrakata Dina will be inducted as a supporter. Latricia Allen, a former FAMU and NFL cheerleader will be a posthumous inductee with the 40th class.
Williams earned many accolades while at FAMU, including being named a three-time All-American. He contributed to the Rattlers winning the MEAC championship in 1990.
He credited his family for getting as far as he did.
“I don’t just do this for me. My family members are huge FAMU contributors; going to FAMU games and all that,” he said. “Being in the Hall is just a tremendous feeling.
“I still haven’t grasped being voted in. I probably won’t grasp it until the weekend comes. This is a tremendous accolade.”
Neither Williams nor Riley has any recollection of how many pancake blocks he made during his FAMU career, but Williams was never one to pay much attention to personal stats, Riley said.
“I just know that what made me good were the guys that I played with,” Williams said. “I played with some pretty good offensive linemen who laid the groundwork for what I wanted to do. We had to be on the same page.”
Williams might have made his name as a fullback had it not being a change of the scheme that then-Rickards coach Mike Hickman installed during his senior season. The change left Williams behind two seniors out of the backfield.
Hickman offered him a shot at playing center on the offensive line. He couldn’t refuse because it was still an opportunity to contribute, Williams said.
He quickly learned to be unselfish and move to a position where he’d play out of the limelight.
“You have to be a special guy to play the line,” Williams said. “A lot of kids want that instant gratification. Playing offensive lineman is just the opposite. You feel the gratitude when your teammates have success; definitely with the quarterback and the receiver.”