Shaud’s persona is uncharacteristically different from most NFL players. He’s the exact opposite of Freddie Mitchell and much better. He steers away from the self-promoting characteristic that is becoming more common among players in the NFL. He stays in close touch with the many people that have touched his life from Andrews, Texas to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
So Williams signed a free agent contract with the Bills, worked his way from a longshot to make the team in a crowded backfield to the backup running back spot behind Willis MaGahee. His small frame made a big impact on the Bills depth chart and a big impact on Bills fans.
With Travis Henry to be soon shipped off in a trade, Williams will have the opportunity to add to his rookie year successes. As Shaud and his many supporters will tell you, he was put on this earth for one reason.
Keith Jasper: What were you thinking when you were not drafted? Had you talked to any teams? What were your expectations?
Shaud Williams: I had a few teams call me. I kind of expected not to get drafted but I had the mindset that whoever gives me a chance that I’m going to go in there and do what it takes to make it.
I had a few teams call me before the draft, but most called after the draft and Buffalo seemed like the best fit for me. So I chose to go to Buffalo. I had talked to the running backs coach at the combine and he seemed like a really great guy that you would want to play for and when I got to Buffalo that held true. I really got along with my running back coach and he’s really the main reason I decided on Buffalo.
Keith: You were an undrafted rookie, you signed with Buffalo, then you worked up to be on the active roster, then into a number two spot, do you play with that as a chip on your shoulder?
Shaud: Yeah and that’s the way I’ve always done things. That’s my motivation; to go out there and show people I can play this game at this level and show those other teams that they missed out on a good football player. A career without a challenge isn’t a career for me.
I think that when God created me he said that this young man will not go through life without any challenges. So anytime there is a challenge I know it’s there for a reason, it’s meant to be, and things are going right if there is a challenge. That’s the way I look at it.
Keith: You said that a “career without challenge is not for you”, you’re currently the backup to Willis MaGahee, what challenges do you see ahead now?
Shaud: Well, I’ll have to come in and compete again this year. You know nothing is guaranteed and they will probably bring in some more running backs during training camp and I’ll look at it as the same thing all over again. You know, ‘here we go again.’
Keith: You transferred from Texas Tech to Alabama during the period of NCAA sanctions, why was that a move you made?
Shaud: I left Tech because they changed the offense up and I came to Alabama because I wanted to be a part of a good organization. I wanted to show the people that even with all the sanctions from the NCAA that I still wanted to play for Alabama.
Keith: You really have a numerous amount of supporters from Texas, Alabama, and now Buffalo, and you make efforts to keep in touch with your fans, why do you feel that is so important?
Shaud: Aw man, the fans are what makes the game. I grew up in a small town where everybody knows everybody and they have always supported me and stood behind me whatever I did. The fans at Alabama, they showed great support even when we were losing they were showing up for every game screaming their heads off.
I still keep in touch with the guys at Alabama and I hung out with them a couple of days ago. I got to spend time with those guys because I kind of missed them this year. Things like that make you appreciate when you play at a school like the University of Alabama.
Keith: Do you think you enjoy the more ‘incognito’ manner in which you are free to roam about in public, or the constant recognition in public that will come with being more well known?
Shaud: Well, I’ve never liked a lot of attention. I’d rather be able to walk in public and just be an average Joe in the crowd. It’s not always like that, fans say ‘Hi’ and that they appreciate you.
Keith: How tough was it for the transition of going to school and playing football at Alabama to playing football in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills?
Shaud: Oh yeah, it was different, it was something I had to get used to. Once you get up there it becomes your job and you have treat it as such. You have to come really prepared everyday because everyday somebody’s trying to take your job. I mean, you’ve got to come prepared and ready to go to work.
I think another difference is the speed of the game. Everyone is so fast and the running holes open and close with the blink of an eye.
Keith: People talk a lot about your height, explain what advantages you feel you have over taller and bigger backs?
Shaud: Oh that’s easy, they have a hard time seeing me behind that line. So yeah I’m small but defenders have a hard time finding me.
Its got disadvantages too, but I just try to expose the advantages more. I mean there were a couple of tight holes I was able to slip through this year, that if I was a bigger back I might not have been able to slip through.
Keith: Was there anyone on the team that stood out to you as a mentor? Anyone who helped you make the transition into the NFL? How did that influence or affect you?
Shaud: I’d sit and talk with the older guys like Eric Moulds, former Mississippi State guy, I learned a lot from him to get where you need to be mentally to play this game at the professional level. The biggest thing I’ve learned from those guys is to stay hungry and always want to be better.
Keith: What’s the impression you want to give your fans about you?
Shaud: That I’m just a humble, down to earth type of guy. They can talk to me just like they talk to anyone else. I never think that I’m better than anyone else because I’m not and they can always feel free to talk to me.
Keith: What sort of preparations are you taking for the upcoming 2005 season?
Shaud: Right now I’m just working out, trying to put a little bit of weight. I’m really watching what I’m eating, making sure I keep working out, running, staying in shape, and that’s really about it.
Keith: You’ve said the coaches want you to add a little more weight for the upcoming season, What type of role are they expecting for you for the coming season?
Shaud: I’m not really sure, but I think a third down back. But I’m not real sure. Whatever role they tell me to play I will be up for it and give it 100%.
Keith: During this offseason, what does your training and conditioning program consist of?
Shaud: Mostly just lifting weights; bench pressing, hang cleaning, squats. Running wise, mostly sprints.
Keith: How do you feel training with the NFL strength coordinators has helped you from college trainers?
Shaud: Well I think I’ve learned a lot from both. It’s different at both levels. I was fortunate enough to have a good strength coach at Alabama and Brad Roll with the Bills has taught me some things that I really didn’t focus on in college, such as flexibility which I never thought had a big impact on how you play.
Keith: What are your thoughts on losing coach Rusty Jones?
Shaud: Rusty was an awesome dude. He will be tough to replace. Truly awesome and he will do a great job in Chicago.
Keith: Are you planning on working out with any other athletes or teammates?
Shaud: Not right now, but when I get back to Buffalo I’m sure a lot of us rookies from last year will get together, like J.P. and Lee Evans. I train in Texas and then I go back to Buffalo.
Keith: Who are you closest to on the team?
Shaud: J.P. Losman, Josh Reed, Lee Evans, Freddie Smith, and of course, all the Southeastern Conference guys. We stick together, look out for each other and try to hang out and have a good time.
Keith: What type of challenges do you think will go on at the running back spot before the regular season starts?
Shaud: Right now Willis is the starting running back and which he should be, I mean he did a great job this year coming in. But we’re all going to go in there and compete and try to make each other better and if we do that, we’ll be much better as a position.
Keith: Do you feel the rushing game should be split up more?
Shaud: No not really, I mean Willis did such a great job this year you can’t really justify taking carries away from him. He came in there and showed he could do it. I really don’t think there is any justification in taking carries away from Willis.
Keith: What preparations do you go through the day of a game?
Shaud: Wake up early, get to the stadium about 10 that morning, sit at my locker listening to music and go over what I need to go over in my playbook. I put my left shoe on, then my right shoe, but I tie my right shoe first. It’s something I’ve done since I was little.
Keith: During the Cleveland game, you got to play for the first time in the NFL regular season, mentally, coming up to the active list from the practice squad, what was going through your head before you touched the ball?
Shaud: Just trying to stay relaxed. Let the flow of the game come to me. Do what you know how to do. That was mainly it.
Keith: When you’re out there on the field, what type of mentality are you in? What’s going on in your head?
Shaud: Simple, just play hard and have fun.
Keith: How does your daily schedule and routine change from the offseason to the start of the season?
Shaud: During offseason, you’re working out and doing condition type stuff constantly, during the regular season it’s not as constantly intense with workouts and not as hectic. During the season you get a little more time to relax and you take advantage of it.
Keith: When you got the start for the San Francisco game, did you do anything differently than the weeks before? Any special preparations? Did anyone give you any advice that you still remember?
Shaud: Every week I prepared like I was going to be the starter anyway, so I didn’t have to do anything different for the San Francisco game.
Keith: Were there any pranks pulled on you as a rookie? Anything at training camp that went along with being a rookie?
Shaud: Coach Mularky had told the older players that he didn’t want them being too hard on us. So the normal stuff like carrying shoulder pads, I had to carry Josh Reed’s pads. He also stole my helmet after practice one day and I had to go all over to find that.
We had to do a rookie show too, where the rookies had to get up and do skits and stuff in front of the whole team. I impersonated Rusty Jones and Brad Roll. I stuffed a pillow in my shirt to look fat and I had a whistle and I ran in there and started yelling at everyone like they do, just mocking them. Especially Brad Roll’s walk. They got a real big kick out of it.
Drew Bledsoe also pulled a big one on us. For Thanksgiving they had the rookies go pick up these turkeys, and they said we were going to have to deliver them to less-fortunate families. The guy that worked there asked us if we know where we were supposed to deliver them and we said ‘no’ because he was supposed to tell us. So the next thing I know he jumps off the delivery truck and takes off running and right then the police pull up.
They get out and tell us to put our hands on the car and they frisk us and start reading our rights. They handcuff us and then tell us the turkeys were stolen.
Then they took us to the holding cell at the stadium. Of course we figured out it was a joke when all the rookies showed up in handcuffs in there.
Keith: Do you have a favorite place to get Buffalo Wings?
Shaud: I haven’t had Buffalo Wings yet believe it or not. I’m going to have to try some when I go back up there.
Keith: Which has the best food, where is the best eating at; Texas, Alabama, or Buffalo?
Shaud: Texas has the best Mexican food, Alabama has the best barbecue, and Buffalo I haven’t figured out yet.
Keith: What is the single thing that has impacted you most about becoming a professional athlete?
Shaud: My mom and dad, they’ve always been there for me, I wanted to do this for them. They’ve worked so hard for me and done for me. I always remember when I was little my mom working nights as a nurse. So I wanted to be able to give back to them and show them how much I appreciate them.
Keith: Having come from the South, how do you like the snow in Buffalo?
Shaud: It was a tough thing to get used to at first. It was probably the most snow I’ve seen in my whole life. I left Buffalo after the season was done. I got used to it. The first day I went out and played in it and a few days later it got pretty old.
Keith: What are some things you want to achieve on the field in 2005?
Shaud: Mostly I’d like to gain the respect from my teammates. I’ve never really been the kind of guy that shoots for the Pro Bowl or Hall of Fame or anything like that, I just want to go out there and gain the trust and respect from my teammates. Accomplishing that will be good enough for me.
Seems like no one deserves it more.