Arizona State has produced some truly remarkable running backs over the years whose names resonated decades later.
During the "Golden Era" of Sun Devil football, Woody Green was busy setting records that still stand. A prior Underrated Files spotlight featured Darryl Clack, who led the way in the early 1980s. In more recent times, players such as J.R. Redmond and Cameron Marshall have carried on that legacy.
Yet, a look at the school's record book won't be very long until you see the name Freddie Williams, most frequently right after Green's name. Based on their history, it's only appropriate that they remain close in their legacies.
Green's amazing career wrapped up with a 1,313-yard season in 1973. That same year, Williams—from Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg, Florida—made his Sun Devils debut. In spot duty behind a host of talented backs like Green and Benny Malone, Williams quietly ran for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
With both Malone and Green departed in 1974, Williams was left to carry the rushing attack, and that he did. He set a school record with 249 carries, while gaining 1,299 yards and eight touchdowns. He had some stellar performances, such as a 216-yard game versus UTEP (still the ninth best single-game total by a Sun Devil) and a 195-yard game against Colorado State. Such a successful year earned Williams a spot on the All-WAC team and an honorable mention on the AP's All-American team.
However, the production didn't help lead to tremendous success, as ASU went 7-5, ending a four-season bowl streak. But greater things were on the horizon, both for Williams and the Sun Devils.
As much of a workhorse as he was in 1974, Williams exceeded that in 1975, breaking his own record for carries with 266, a number that still stands. His 1,427 yards still are the fourth-best total ever by a Sun Devil, but he saved the most important 111 for the Fiesta Bowl, in which ASU battled Nebraska.
As the St. Petersburg Times said in their preview of the game:
The question here is whether Arizona State, from the less highly regarded Western Athletic Conference, can compete with a perennial national power from the Big Eight.
Consider the question soon answered.
The Sun Devils' 17-14 win capped off a perfect 12-0 year and a No. 2 finish in both polls. Again, he was an All-WAC performer and honorable mention on the All-American team.
Unfortunately, that success didn't carry over to the following year. Williams rushed for just 571 yards and did not score a touchdown as the Sun Devils finished just 4-7 (but beat Arizona, so there's that).
He went on to be taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the eighth round of the 1977 NFL Draft, but did not see any action.
Nevertheless, to this day Williams ranks second only to Green in career yards (4,188 to 3,424), attempts (675 to 648) and 100-yard games (21 to 17).
Not too shabby.
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