David Williams Talks With IlliniGuys About Illini Football, 2nd Annual Golf Outing

(Editor's Note: College Football Hall of Fame wide receiver David Williams recently joined the IlliniGuys on their weekly syndicated radio show IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular)


Larry Smith: We have not talked to you since the football season ended. Two seasons under the belt now of Bret Bielema for this Illini football program. Your thoughts, you saw this program in its heyday. And it feels like, if nothing else, you're getting some wins. Now on the field, you're getting some players in place. And it feels like he's kind of building something here.

David Williams: It seems like he's doing a good job. Just hearing all the good stories about the kids that were landing that are committing to us, and then watching last year, you can see the kids growing up on the field right before your eyes, you can see him getting better. And you can see our program. Attracting more kids by winning, you're gonna get kids to come to your school when they see you winning, nobody's gonna come to a losing program when you got half the schools in the country that are winning. So it was nice to turn on a game and finally not turn it off after the first quarter because we're getting smashed. So it was exciting to watch us win eight games.

Brad Sturdy: How important is it to have a guy drafted as high as like Devon Witherspoon going high in the first round? It's got to be a great feather in the cap for Bielema as they go through recruiting.

David: Usually you see Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, and Georgia, you never see Illinois, it's been a while since you had a guy from Illinois drafted in the top 10. So, you know, that helps our program. Then you got the Brown brothers drafted. That was awesome. And they play great on the field. So once you're winning, and the fans are coming out, and you can see the success, and then you see guys getting drafted, we'll attract more high-quality players.  So, by them getting some of these guys that can actually line up and, and mix it up and play well, you got a shot. And that's a recipe for growth and your program.

Mike Cagley: And when you guys played in that era, Illinois hit as hard as anybody in the Big 10. Has it been noticed by you how hard this team hits, and how Coach B has kind of put that physicality back into the Illinois program that we really haven't seen on a consistent basis since the early 90s?

David: Yeah, I saw him getting better. You know, I liked the schedule we had last year too, that kind of helped to. So while he's playing some of these teams, not as elite as Ohio State, they're getting their feet dirty and learning, because when you get a young guy that hasn't been in those big game situations, sometimes you need to build up to that. Right, they played Michigan, and they played them tough, and we almost beat them. So, I loved our schedule, and I loved how the guys were growing. One day, that easy schedule is gonna leave, and you know, I want to see what the guys can do. But it's a great start, and he's doing a great job. And I liked the progress I've saw I saw on the field last year. I really did.

Larry:  You're a Southern California guy and the Big 10 in Illinois is coming to you. What's the vibe like out there now that USC and UCLA are about to become a part of the Big 10?

David: That's still crazy to me. I still just, that still makes no sense to me. I love it for the fact that I get to go, I can go see my school play once a year, playing against UCLA and USC, they're gonna play one of them at least here once a year. So I'm gonna love that. I don't like the fact that these schools are so freaking greedy. I saw the teams go into the SEC and the Big 10. You know, the greed in sports is just ridiculous to me, I hate that. But I love the fact that I get to go see my team. I would prefer just seeing them in a Rose Bowl playing for the roses. But, you know, seeing them is better than not seeing them. So the vibe here is it isn't until it really happens, you know, is kind of on the back burner because the schedule just came out. So we just saw that they played them. Right? So I think it'll be, and then I got emails from a bunch of guys saying they need somewhere to stay. So like, I'm like, I got you just come on when they play. Come on. I fill up my house with everybody.

Mike: Well, that sounds like a cost savings for the Illini Guys. This is awesome!

Brad: There you go. Mike, you're staying out back. You're out back, buddy.

David: I'm looking forward to that, you know, that's gonna be kind of exciting watching us play against UCLA. Last time we play UCLA, they beat the hell out of us. So hopefully, we correct that and that schedule will attract kids from out here to go back to play for Illinois. We can steal some of those recruits.

Brad: Football season is coming up. Is there anything going on that we need to know about? That first football weekend?

David: The first football weekend is David Williams Foundation's second annual golf tournament. We're gonna be playing at the Orange and Blue course (in Savoy). Last year, we were in Mahomet. And this year, we having more people signing up, we thought it was gonna be too big to be at the Lake of the Woods. So we're going to we're going to have split tee times at the orange and blue course. And we're going to raise money for Bonnie Blair's charity. She has a project that's helping children with sports equipment who can't afford otherwise. We're trying to help all the little kids be able to enjoy sports like we do.

Mike: Who are some of the stars you have lined up to play?

David: We got Keith Byers, a Hall of Famer. We got David Fulcher, who just got in the Hall of Fame. David played at Arizona State. We have Brandon Lloyd coming again. Dee Brown who's always awesome. We got Keith Taylor coming back. Tommy Frazier said he's in. We just have to make sure we shore up their schedules, you know, because people still have kids and grandkids. You know, some of them are playing sports. More importantly, we have a Rose Bowl reunion that weekend. So I'm gonna have a lot of my guys on my Rose Bowl team come play to my canvas and Donnie Passmore. Hopefully, Don Thorpe will come play. Mike Giddings is planning on it (as well as) Sam Ellsworth . So that's gonna be exciting, too.

Larry: Friday, September 1st at the Illinois Orange and Blue in Savoy. How do people get involved and where do they go to sign up?

David: DavidWilliamsFoundation.org. Mike White will be there. He's not gonna play golf, but he's gonna be there in a cart. Come and say hello to everyone. So anybody want to come out and say hello to Mike White. I saw him a couple of months ago and he was trying to try to (decide) if he was going to come and I told him how much do people still appreciate him and love him and he said, 'okay, I'm coming'. Chris (White) is coming, Mike is coming and Jack Trudeau was coming.

Larry: David, it is such a just a great event that you do. And you have always been such a big part of the Illinois community. It's something that you I know it's close to your heart because you don't have to do this. But you choose to do this to give back.

David: You know, Illinois did so much for me by giving me an opportunity to come there and play football and I've had such a great life because of that. I was blessed to be able to go there and play. And I always loved that place because the people were always so kind. Whether we won or lost people were always there. My first year I don't think I ever played in front of a stadium that wasn't sold out. I miss the roar of the crowd. I missed the people coming out to support the program like they used to. But once we start winning, they'll see it. The people will come if you win. The coach is doing a good job. So they'll come out as long as he keeps getting the kids in and he keeps winning. That's a great place to have a football program.


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