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Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The Top 10 Big 12 players ever: No. 9

By David Ubben

Over the next couple weeks, we're counting down the top 10 players in the history of the Big 12. I'm sure you'll all agree with my selections.

See more on my criteria here.

Let's move on with the lsit:

No. 9: Roy Williams, S, Oklahoma (1999-2001)

Why he's on the list: Williams will hold a special place in Oklahoma history as the starting safety and the best player for the Sooners' seventh national title team back in 2000. That was Bob Stoops' second season at OU and Oklahoma hasn't taken home the crystal football since. Williams was one of the hardest hitters in Big 12 history and was a trailblazer for a position that's become commonplace in the Big 12. It's colloquially referred to as the "Roy" position by some around the program, but the 220-pounder was a safety who played closer to the line of scrimmage as a linebacker and introduced a lot more speed. It's not the exact same, but most programs call it the nickel back now, though Williams defended in a Big 12 with a lot less passing. Nobody at Oklahoma's been as good at doing what Williams did, but he cemented his legacy with one of the most famous plays in school history.

Nursing a 7-3 lead in the final minutes of the 2001 Red River Rivalry, Williams lept over the defensive line and hit Chris Simms a split second after the snap, knocking the ball loose and into Teddy Lehman's hands for a touchdown to clinch the win. That season, Williams won the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation's top defender and collected the Thorpe Award as the game's best defensive back, earning unanimous All-American honors along the way. He left Oklahoma a season early to pursue his lengthy NFL career that included five Pro Bowls, but there's no doubt about his status as one of the best and most influential defenders in college football history, much less Big 12 history.

The rest of the list: