SHREVEPORT, La. — Now that he has reached the end of his marvelous run at Boston College, departing as the 2013 Doak Walker Award winner, a Heisman Trophy finalist, a consensus All-American, and the school’s career rushing leader, Andre Williams hopes to do more than just suit up one last time with his teammates in Tuesday’s AdvoCare V100 Bowl.
Walker, the bruising senior who led the nation in rushing with 2,102 yards, wants to accomplish something in the bowl game against Arizona at Independence Stadium that he was unable to do in BC’s regular-season finale Nov. 30 at Syracuse.
He is hoping, quite simply, to finish the game.
“Well, you know, it’s everything to me right now,’’ said Williams, who will square off against Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey in a tantalizing matchup of the nation’s top two running backs. “It’s going to be the last game of my college career, and there’s nothing bigger to me than that right now. So I’m really just excited to get back on the field with my team.’’
It pained Williams to sit and watch all but one play of the second half of a 34-31 loss at Syracuse. He was forced to the sideline after BC’s first play of the third quarter when he suffered a sprained right shoulder.
“It was really disappointing to have to sit out of the game, the last game of the regular season,’’ said Williams, who was held to nine carries for 29 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown just before the end of the first quarter. “We were really going for [win] No. 8, but I was really proud of how the offense really pulled together and played in the last half of the game.’’
With Williams on the bench, senior quarterback Chase Rettig, playing perhaps his best game of the season, rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown and passed for 168 yards and a pair of TDs.
“I feel like Chase definitely had one of his best games of the season in that game,’’ said Williams. “I was just not happy that I wasn’t able to be a part of it.’’
After the loss, Williams declared he would be fine for the bowl game. All he would need was rest and recuperation. However, he seemed to get little of either once he hit the awards circuit, picking up the Doak Walker in Orlando, then jetting off to New York as one of six Heisman finalists.
Williams finished fourth in the Heisman balloting behind landslide winner Jameis Winston, the freshman quarterback from Florida State.
“I think it was a really great honor that I was chosen to represent BC in that manner,’’ said Williams. “It just goes back to what our goals were at the beginning of the season, which was to become bowl eligible, have a winning season, and go out in such a spectacular fashion.’’
Williams, who had not rushed for more than 584 yards in any of his three previous seasons, exceeded all expectations, recording the 16th 2,000-yard season in FBS history and the ninth-best rushing season in the history of college football.
“I don’t think I really sold myself short,’’ Williams said. “I think I set high goals for myself. Just the fact we were able to come together the way we did this year and exceed all of them just shows how confident we could be as a unit. I’m just hoping it comes together for us one last time.”
When the team landed in Shreveport Friday, BC coach Steve Addazio said he was not concerned about Williams suffering any hangovers from his whirlwind Heisman weekend.
“I haven’t seen anything different,’’ Addazio said Saturday after putting the Eagles through their first bowl practice in full pads at Loyola College Prep’s Messmer Stadium. “But it’s naive to think when you go through that whole process it doesn’t [affect] you. It’s a whirlwind, but he’s been good.
“We talked about it the other day. I said, ‘Listen, you’ve got to manage that,’ because what happens with all those things is that the accolades and everything is good, but the world we live in today, it’s what have you done for me lately?
“So I told him, you’re going to be playing in this bowl game and a lot of people are going to be watching. They’re going to be like, ‘Let’s watch Andre Williams.’ So he’s got to be at competitive excellence. All he’s got to do is control himself, and make sure he’s at competitive excellence and he’ll do fine.’’
Said Williams, “I think the opportunity is great and I’m really excited to be part of the matchup and I’m really excited to be back on the field one last time with my team.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.