Cadillac Williams knows a thing or two about tradition.
As half of Auburn's one-two backfield punch in 2004 — alongside Ronnie Brown — Williams was apart of the Tigers' undefeated Sugar Bowl team.
Williams played for four years at Auburn, racking up 3,831 yards on 741 attempts and topping another Auburn legend, Bo Jackson, for most career rushing touchdowns.
And now, the Tigers new running backs coach wants that same success for his position group, obviously, but the name of the game will be tradition.
"Coach Cadillac, from Day 1 he told us the standard," said rising senior running back Kam Martin. "You know we're about to get this tradition back on. I feel like he's gonna do a really good job."
As spring practice gets underway on The Plains, Martin has already seen the infectious vigor from his new coach.
"Everyday, he brings energy," Martin said. "Everybody holds each other accountable in that room. The room has gotten very tight. Everybody in there is very close. That's' what we're standing on in that room. Everybody is a family there."
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
It’s been 14 years since Williams suited up in the orange and blue on Saturdays, but he's now returned to The Plains in an Auburn uniform again, but this time as a coach, replacing former RB coach Tim Horton.
Williams was drafted fifth overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2005 and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year, rushing for 1178 yards and six touchdowns.
"He's a running back — always has been, always will be," former Auburn All-SEC running back Kerryon Johnson said of Williams at Auburn's pro day. "He's going to do a fantastic job ... Cadillac's getting a job at his dream school."
Both Williams and Brown were driving forces behind the 2003-04 undefeated season, when the Tigers were snubbed out of the BCS title game between No. 1 USC and No. 2 Oklahoma. In 2011, the NCAA stripped USC of that title due to violations.
After a successful first two seasons in the NFL, Williams suffered an season-ending knee injury in 2007, but was able to recover for the 2008 season. Until the last game of the season where he suffered the same injury — on the other knee — Williams continued to play in the NFL, but never at the same caliber. He was narrowly beaten by Tom Brady as the 2009 AP Comeback Player of the Year.
After he eventually retired in 2009, Williams decided to try coaching through a program the NFLPA implemented in aiding former players find coaching internships. Williams coached at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and fell in love in coaching.
After Henderson, he became a graduate assistant at D-II school West Georgia. From there, he transitioned to IMG Academy, followed by a brief time with the new AAF team, the Birmingham Iron. But he always had a gut feeling he would return to Jordan-Hare.
“In the future, maybe coaching college ball,” William told Saturday Down South two years ago. “ I’m sure a lot of people know that I bleed orange and blue. I would love to give back to the school that laid my foundation for helping me become a man where I had so many great memories. The people there are unbelievable.”
On January 23, Auburn tweeted a picture of a Cadillac car to announce Williams' return, and the response was overwhelming excitement by the Auburn fans.
Williams received a standing ovation at the men's basketball game against Alabama where he was the celebrity letter holder, and couldn’t help but smile from ear-to-ear.
Head coach Gus Malzahn commented on Williams addition, especially with his recruiting prowess, to the staff on National Signing Day last month.
“I just think he is going to be a great recruiter,” Malzahn said. “He is very genuine, very honest, and of course, he walks in a room and everybody knows who he is. A fit within our staff and both those guys are a really good fit within our staff and the continuity of everything, so very excited to work with those two guys and they are going to do great.”
Williams experienced the turbulent nature of a professional athlete's career, battling injuries and receiving NFL honors. He intends to pass on his knowledge off the field, as well.
"One of the main reasons I got into coaching was to give back and serve others,” Williams said. “I want to help players reach their ultimate goal and steer them the right way on and off the field. I'm not sure there's a better place I can do that than at Auburn, where I'm forever indebted. I'm excited to get to work. I can't wait to meet the players and staff, get involved in the community and help get Auburn to the championship level year in and year out that we know we are capable of."
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman