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Spelling Victory With Victor: Big Green Receiver Puts It All Together in Senior Year

Saturday, October 10, 2015
Hanover — Victor Williams’ biceps and triceps muscles are so developed, it appears giant ball bearings have been inserted under the skin of his upper arms. The Dartmouth College football team is counting on the senior’s legs and hands, however, to help it roll over Yale this afternoon during the school’s homecoming game at Memorial Field.

Each team is 3-0 overall and 1-0 in Ivy League play. Big Green officials are urging fans to arrive early for what could be the program’s first sellout since 1974, when the Harvard game drew 21,530 in a facility that then sat 20,816. Capacity after two remodeling projects is now 11,000.

Williams leads the Ivy League in receiving yardage per game with an average of 135.4 per game and is a close second in catches per contest at 9.3. The Muskogee, Okla., native is third among NCAA Football Championship Series receivers in those categories and has hauled in 28 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns. That’s as many scores as he had in his college career entering this season, when he lined up in the slot and was viewed as a complementary piece to position mate Ryan McManus, a 2014 first team All-Ivy selection.

McManus, however, has been sidelined with an ankle injury the past two games, so star quarterback Dalyn Williams has instead relied on Victor Williams, who was moved to a wideout position last month. The two aren’t related, but have connected for 23 completions, 391 yards and three touchdowns during Dartmouth’s last two games.

“He’s very hungry and he wants to be great,” Dalyn Williams said. “It’s my fault he didn’t succeed as much on the inside because he’s a shorter receiver and I’m a shorter quarterback and sometimes, when he was coming across the middle, he was wide open and I didn’t see him.”

Success came a bit slower than Victor Williams was hoping, given that he was first-team All-Oklahoma while playing for a 1,700-student school. He caught 57 passes for 664 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior, when he also ran for eight touchdowns and made 42 tackles as a defensive back. Louisiana-Monroe offered a scholarship and Navy, Louisiana Tech, Utah State and Tulsa showed interest, but Williams committed to Dartmouth three days after visiting campus during the 2011 homecoming weekend and being struck by how much students loved the college.

At Dartmouth, he played in all 10 games and was fourth on the team in receiving as a freshman, before being slowed by injury as a sophomore. Listed at 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, Williams fumbled too often, usually after fighting for yards at the end of a play or attempting spectacular moves that opened him up to damaging tackles and compromised ball security.

On the sidelines, during drills or around Floren Varsity House, the newcomer could be snippy and kept most people he encountered at arm’s length. He wasn’t always a favorite of the team’s support staff, the managers, trainers and administrators who are vital to its daily operations and whom most players treat with deserved respect.

Last season, Williams started every game in the slot and was second on the team in receiving. His demeanor mellowed and there were fewer agitated outbursts.

“I’m a very blunt and forward guy but I’ve learned to pick my battles,” Williams said. “I tell it like it is and some people don’t like that. I’ve had to work on nicer ways to tell people things. It’s word usage and being more politically aware here compared to Oklahoma, which is very conservative and different.”

Said Teevens: “He’s just grown up. He was always a team player but he got frustrated when he wouldn’t get balls in practice and games. I’m happy for him because he works as hard as anyone we have in the weight room and speed preparation and it’s making a huge difference for us.”

The Floren weight room features a wall chart listing Dartmouth’s strongest athletes based on a comparison of their size and how much they can lift. The name at the top doesn’t belong to a football lineman or a hockey power forward or a track throws competitor. It reads, “Victor Williams,” and that power translates onto the field, where he’s able to break tackles and manhandle opponents after a teammate receives the ball.

“He’s got great balance and body control and explosive power,” said Teevens, also noting that Williams runs consistently precise routes. “Our receivers have to get down field and block people who are generally bigger and he maintains control of them and is very effective.”

Williams said his father, Victor Shawn Williams, Sr., began working out with him as a way for the pair to spend time together after the elder Williams was absent during long-distance trucking jobs. On some days they would grind out 1,500 abdominal crunches and Victor applied similar dedication in the classroom, where he caught the engineering bug in junior high after attending the National Summer Transportation Institute at Langston (Okla.) University. For nearly a month, students who had made it through an application and interview process lived like college students and learned about transportation organizations, businesses and skills.

Williams came out of the camp wanting to be a civil engineer, although he decided to major in mechanical engineering once he got to Dartmouth and enrolled in a five-year program. Doing well academically comes naturally to someone who spent his high school lunch periods hanging with other advanced-placement students in the physics teacher’s classroom, but a bad choice exposed his academic pursuits to criticism last fall.

Williams was one of nearly 300 Dartmouth students in a sports, religion and ethics class where 64 students were sanctioned with punishments ranging from probation to a two-term suspension after they misrepresented their attendance. Professor Randall Balmer accused some students of passing off handheld devices known as “clickers” to classmates who used them to answer questions on the absent students’ behalf, making it appear as if they, too, were present.

Dartmouth didn’t name any of the sanctioned students, but it became widely known in and around the football program that some starters were involved when, despite being healthy, they missed games down the stretch of the Big Green’s second-place finish in the Ivies. Williams sat out the penultimate contest against Brown and said having to watch it from Floren’s top floor was painful.

“We won, so that made it better but it definitely hurt,” he said. “It wasn’t fun at all, but you have to deal with the consequences of your actions. I regret it deeply, of course, but I’m not afraid to admit to the mistake I made.”

Yale can’t make many miscues today or Williams and McManus, who’s expected to be back in the lineup, could make it look foolish. Double-teaming both threats isn’t practical, so one will see plenty of single coverage. Should Dartmouth’s offensive line give Dalyn Williams time, the Big Green could be headed to Harvard on Oct. 30 with a shot at snapping what might then be the Crimson’s 19-game winning streak. The two-time defending league champion hasn’t lost consecutive contests in nine years.

Victor Williams figures to draw plenty of opposing and media attention the rest of the season, but said he’s focused on hoisting silver hardware after the Big Green’s season finale against visiting Princeton on Nov. 21.

“Of course, you dream about getting the ball a lot, but dreams don’t just come true for no reason,” Williams said. “They’re something you’ve got to work for and we’re working for a championship.”

Notes: Today’s game will be televised by Fox College Sports. … Dartmouth has won its last three games against Yale. … The Big Green’s offense ranks eighth among FCS teams and its defense is second. The team has forced 10 turnovers while committing only three, the best mark at its national level of play. … Dartmouth has started 16 previous seasons 3-0 and won the Ivies during nine of those campaigns. … Dalyn Williams’ statistics were adjusted after a video review of last week’s game at Pennsylvania and the senior set a school record by completing 92 percent of his passes during a 23-of-25 effort that resulted in 336 yards and four touchdowns. … Victor Williams’ hometown has an approximate population of 38,000 and is also the birthplace of country music singer Carrie Underwood. … A video of Teevens and the Mobile Virtual Player tackling dummy he helped invent appearing on CBS’ The Late Show had been viewed more than 20,000 times by late afternoon Friday. The host donned a pair of shoulder pads and a Dartmouth helmet before tackling the dummy on stage.

Tris Wykes can be reached at or 603-727-3227.

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