University of Memphis football legend DeAngelo Williams smashed a guitar before the 901 FC vs. Charleston match at AutoZone Park. David Cobb, The Commercial Appeal
It was a big weekend for DeAngelo Williams returning to Memphis
Not only did he celebrate his 36th birthday last week, the former Tigers running back held his third annual charity cornhole tournament on Tiger Lane Saturday. He spent the night with the Memphis 901 FC, smashing the guitar in the team’s pregame tradition.
But the 11-year NFL veteran was most proud to welcome two former Tigers to the league in Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard, who were drafted this weekend.
University of Memphis football legend and former NFL running back DeAngelo Williams holds the remnants of a guitar he smashed on April 27, 2018 before the Memphis 901 FC soccer game against the Charleston Battery at AutoZone Park.
(Photo: David Cobb)
Williams spent 11 years in the league and broke down why he liked Henderson going to the Los Angeles Rams as their third-round choice and Pollard going to the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round.
"I was a little puzzled by (Darrell) going to the Rams but that’s kind of the same system that we run here. That spread offense where you let the guy choose his own hole so I think he’s going to be experience a lot of success there in LA," Williams said.
Henderson and Pollard were the first running backs drafted from Memphis since Williams was a first-round draft pick in 2006. It was fitting since both sit directly behind Williams in school history for all-purpose yards.
Williams was even higher on Pollard knowing that the Cowboys have a need at kick returner.
"They’re going to ask a lot of him because they let Ryan Switzer go so they don’t have a return man," Williams said. So he’ll step in and I think help them right away in the return game. And because he’s a utility player and he can do so much, they can put him anywhere on the field and he can be successful."
Williams hesitated just calling Pollard a running back due to his versatility but he did offer a favorable NFL comparison to one of the league’s all-time best kick returners.
"Every time I see him touch the ball, Devin Hester is a name that comes to mind but he has better hands than Devin Hester," he said. "I think he’ll be more successful whether its in the run game, the pass game. They can literally put him anywhere except quarterback because he can’t throw."
The two gave Williams even more reason to be proud of his alma mater. He and head coach Mike Norvell had a friendly Twitter exchange regarding the results of his tournament Saturday but Williams said that every time he speaks to Norvell, he thanks him for what he’s done over the past three years.
Not only has Memphis seen five players drafted since Norvell arrived, the program has grown in stature as one of the best non-Power Five teams in the country. It’s given Williams bragging rights among his former teammates and with two more Tigers in the NFL, he has more ammo to use.
"A lot of guys won’t even talk to me about football because Memphis is favored in every one of their game this year," Williams said. They’re like, ‘ah you’re still Memphis’. That’s what they use to talk and put me down.
"I tell them what you don’t understand is, they say we’re not a Power Five conference but we’re a Power Five team and that’s how I’ve always felt about Memphis."
Staff writer David Cobb contributed to the report
You can reach Tigers football beat writer Evan Barnes on Twitter (@Evan_B) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org