IRVING, Texas – During the 2009 season, Terrance Williams was a redshirt freshman at Baylor and was getting his team ready for a big game against Oklahoma State. During the week, Williams wore an orange No. 1 jersey on the scout team, simulating OSU’s star receiver Dez Bryant.
Four years later, Williams and Bryant are now teammates, and perhaps even the receiving duo of the future for the Cowboys. But if anything, Williams joins a current receiving corps that also features Miles Austin and promising youngsters Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley.
The Cowboys entertained the thought of taking Williams at No. 31, but went with Wisconsin center Travis Frederick. Williams was nearly taken at No. 47 on Friday, but San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar was the eventual pick.
But at No. 74, the selection the Cowboys picked up Thursday by trading out of the 18th pick, they couldn’t pass on Williams for the third time. Williams, a local star from W.T. White High School in Dallas, said he couldn’t believe when he saw his phone ringing with the 972 area code on the number.
“It feels like a dream, to be honest, to be drafted by a team that I grew up watching and always liked,” Williams said. “To get a chance to play for them, this just means the world to me.”
Baylor head coach Art Briles visited with Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett for about 30 minutes last weekend and said he got the feeling the Cowboys would take him if he was around.
“Dallas got a steal and he got a thrill,” Briles quipped Friday night after the pick. “It’s great for both sides. (Williams) got to go the place he’s always loved and supported and the Cowboys got a great football player and teammate. He’ll be a great professional.”
Briles knows a thing or six about sending receivers to the NFL. Last year, rookies Kendall Wright (Titans) and Josh Gordon (Browns) had successful seasons coming out of Baylor, which also produced Carolina three-year veteran David Gettis. Briles also coached Donnie Avery at Houston and recruited Wes Welker when he was an assistant coach at Texas Tech.
Briles said Williams is as NFL-ready as all of them.
“I think he’s ready, no question. He can jump on the field today and play,” said Briles, who had a quick response when asked to comment on the notion Williams might not have game-breaking speed. “First thing that pops in my mind is that he’s fast enough to have 1,800 yards and the leading receiver in America. Facts don’t lie.”
Williams (6-2, 212) ran a 4.52 at the combine last February. His 1,832 yards led the nation last year, along with 97 catches and 12 touchdowns. A finalist for Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s top receiver, Williams improved his stats every season, including 43 catches for 484 yards as a sophomore and 59 for 957 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011 with Robert Griffin III as the quarterback.
Earlier in his career, Williams had to wait his turn behind Wright and Gordon and shared some snaps with Lanear Sampson, who could be a late-round pick in this draft. So Williams shouldn’t have a problem learning from guys Bryant and Miles Austin.
“I can be a good bailout person – somebody who can also take the pressure off Dez, Miles and Jason (Witten),” Williams said. “And someone who can just continue to help them stretch out the field and make big catches when I’m called upon. That’s something I think I can really help out with.”
But make no mistake, Williams is certainly excited about teaming up with Bryant.
“That’s somebody that I really like and to get a chance to play besides him means the world to me because now I get to learn from one of the best and somebody who can help me throughout this whole process and bring the best out in me. I’m just ready to go to work and play football now.”
Editors note: Also think of Terrance Williams as a replacement for Kevin Ogletree’s past role on the roster. Williams has a tremendous upside and with his speed, could push all of the current wide receivers on the team.