- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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SAN ANTONIO – Teddy Williams might be the fastest man in the NFL. Now he just has to learn how to play cornerback after not wearing shoulder pads for five years.
Williams, a four-time All-American sprinter at Texas-San Antonio, impressed Cowboys scouts enough during a workout earlier this week for the team to sign him Thursday.
The 6-foot-3, 198-pound Williams played receiver at John Tyler High in East Texas, where his football career ended with a broken ankle in the fourth game of his senior season. The Cowboys put him at cornerback, and they’ll try to teach him the technique during the course of training camp.
Terence Newman gave Williams tips throughout the course of practice, and a coaching intern works with the rookie every play.
“It’s going to take a little time, but I’m going to work at it and I’m going to get it perfected,” Williams said after working with secondary coach Dave Campo on basics for several minutes after his first practice. “Football comes pretty natural. I’ll come out and just do my best, do what the coaches, get advice from the older players and try to progress every day.”
Wade Phillips referred to Williams as the “Splendid Sprinter,” a slight variation of baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams’ nickname. But Phillips believes Williams, who once was clocked at 9.90 seconds in a wind-aided 100 meters, has attributes other than sensational speed that make him an intriguing prospect. Phillips cited his ability to turn his hips quickly and change direction and his willingness to be physical.
“He didn’t seem shy,” Phillips said. “You worry about physicality first. I watched him get after them pretty good.”
Williams, 22, considered using his final year of eligibility to play college football. But he jumped at the offer from the Cowboys, the only NFL team to contact him.
“Football has always been my heart and my love,” Williams said. “Track really helped me progress as a person and an athlete during my four years at UTSA. Coming back to football is just a great feeling.
“I got a deal with guys that are working with me and believing in me to do something special to help this team get to the Super Bowl.”
A realistic goal right now for Williams is to earn a spot on the practice squad, which would give him a year to learn the NFL game.