LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Their initial meeting was cordial. Hands were extended, hearty shakes were shared, and easy smiles were exchanged when Boston College’s Andre Williams and Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, the nation’s top two running backs, met for the first time Wednesday night at Disney’s Boardwalk Hotel.
Williams, the rugged 6-foot, 227-pound senior from Schnecksville, Pa., ranked as the nation’s leading rusher (175.2 yards per game) and only 2,000-yard rusher this season while Carey, a 5-10, 195-pound junior from Tucson, ranked second in the nation (156.0 ypg). Both arrived here along with Washington’s Bishop Sankey for Thursday night’s Home Depot College Football Awards Show as finalists for the Doak Walker Award, presented annually to the nation’s best running back.
And while the marquee names of college football assembled to meet with the media — including Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Florida State QB Jameis Winston, the presumptive Heisman Trophy favorite who was a late arrival for his media availability session — Williams was interested in meeting one person above all others: Carey.
“Exactly, because I get to play one more game and he’s going to be lining up on the other side of the field,’’ said Williams, referring to the Eagles’ matchup against Carey’s Wildcats in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl Dec. 31 in Shreveport, La. “It was really great to meet him. I got to meet Bishop first, but it’s just great to be around other great athletes.
“You can open up your college football app and see all the stats and everything,’’ Williams added, “but it’s just great to be around actual people and it’s great to see that everyone has common ground and it’s great to find your common ground between players.’’
Carey, like Williams, has proven a durable back, carrying the ball 48 times for 206 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 42-16 romp over No. 5 Oregon.
“I like the way he runs,’’ Carey said of Williams. “He runs hungry and it reminds me of myself. We have two different playing styles, of course. But the way he runs, you can tell he’s got the type of fight in him that I’ve got. And it shows on the field.”
Asked about his initial thoughts when the matchup against Arizona was announced, Williams said, “I was excited, but I had a feeling we were going to play against Arizona just because of that matchup, and I think it’s going to be a great game.’’
Carey hopes to win the game-within-a-game in Shreveport, by outgaining Williams and helping the Wildcats defeat BC in its first bowl appearance since 2010.
“It’s going to be exciting,’’ Carey said. “Hopefully, I can win both games. But I know he’s looking forward to winning both games, too.’’
“Absolutely,’’ Williams said. “It’s important to have a big game, but I think what I just need to concentrate on is just getting win No. 8 and making sure that the team prepares properly leading up to the game Dec. 31.’’
Wednesday, Williams was one of eight BC players who was recognized with All-Atlantic Coast Conference Coaches’ honors, landing on the first team as one of only three unanimous selections. He also is the recipient of the Harry Agganis Award, presented annually to the best player in New England, but Williams didn’t necessarily view himself as a shoo-in for the Doak Walker Award, even as the only 2,000-yard rusher in the nation.
Carey, after all, led the nation last season with 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns, but he wound up losing the Walker Award to Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, who rushed for 1,830 yards and 22 TDs.
“Each of us have different skill sets, and there’s all different factors to look at, strength of the conference and opponents and different things,’’ Williams said. “So I’m sure that it’s not necessarily in the bag yet.’’
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The other Eagles who received Coaches All-ACC honors were wide receiver Alex Amidon, linebacker Steele Divitto, defensive end Kasim Edebali, place kicker Nate Freese, left tackle Matt Patchan, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, and right tackle Ian White. .
Pierre-Louis joined Williams on the first team.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.