Oklahoma State star always looking for extra duties

Updated: October 15, 2003, 8:16 PM ET

STILLWATER, Okla. -- While talking with a few teammates during lunch earlier this week, Darrent Williams was interrupted mid-sentence by a fan.

The gray-haired gentleman placed both hands on Williams' shoulders, leaned over and spoke loud enough for everyone within earshot to hear him.

"You keep playing like you're playing and you're going to join my Hall of Fame," Eddie Sutton said, drawing laughter from Williams and his friends. "I have a Hall of Fame for student-athletes here at Oklahoma State. We've got some good ones up there, but the way you're playing, you've already been nominated."

Even Sutton, the school's famed hoops coach, keeps tabs on Williams these days.

It's hard not to, since the flashy cornerback has emerged as one of the Cowboys' most visible stars with his dazzling performances this season. Now he's grabbing plenty of attention on the sleepy Stillwater campus for more than his choice in clothing -- blue pinstripe suits to oversized NFL replica jerseys.

"It's the new style," Williams said, smiling sheepishly. "I try to keep up."

Texas Tech will probably try to keep up with Williams on Saturday, too, when the Red Raiders play against No. 24 Oklahoma State. Williams will have the unenviable task of trying to slow down Texas Tech and its record-shattering pass attack led by quarterback B.J. Symons.

Williams, a junior from Fort Worth, Texas, is the nation's leader in punt return average (23.3 yards a return) and is tied for seventh in interceptions with four.

But the show really starts once Williams has the ball in his hands.

Two weeks ago, Williams set what's believed to be a school record with two punt returns for touchdowns in a 56-3 rout of Louisiana-Lafayette. Against Kansas State last week, he returned one of Ell Roberson's passes 63 yards for a score that was the difference in a 38-34 win.

That interception return for a touchdown was the fourth in his career, a Big 12 record. His 244 interception return yards rank third in conference history.

Williams is finally getting his share of the spotlight on a team known mostly for its offensive stars, including receiver Rashaun Woods and tailback Tatum Bell, the Big 12's second-leading rusher.

"Darrent Williams has one thing on his mind when he touches the ball, and that's score," special teams coach Joe DeForest said after the Kansas State game. "That's how he lives his life. He's an incredible player. When he gets the ball in his hands, he can make things happen."

While he won't publicly lobby for it -- at least not yet, Williams isn't exactly shy about his desire to play offense in the future.

"I wouldn't mind, but you've gotta ask the big man about that," he said, motioning in the direction of head coach Les Miles.

Miles thinks of his star cornerback, with sprinter's speed, meticulous film study habits and dynamic playmaking ability, and is reminded of former Cowboys' star R.W. McQuarters.

McQuarters, who was a first-round draft pick in the NFL after his junior season, split time as a defensive back, wide receiver and returner at Oklahoma State from 1995-97, back when Miles was the school's offensive coordinator.

But then, Miles is reminded of the dangers of wearing out your best defensive back with all the extra duties. One game, Miles said, McQuarters gave up a game-winning touchdown pass because he was so tired from his other duties.

"We've talked about (Williams) on offense at times," Miles said. "But, we wear him out on Saturdays already. We want him to be fresh. At what point are you really taking away from what he does?"

Miles pauses for a second, then added: "But if there's anybody more well-conditioned and more prepared to do it, I don't know who it is."

Since his coach is reluctant for him to do more things on the field, Williams has already given thought to running with the school's track team. The challenges can't come often enough for the self-assured Williams.

"I'd love to be in the Hall of Fame," Williams said, playing off of Sutton's comment. "You've got to go out there, be aggressive and make things happen."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index