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November 8, 2012

Williams makes his own luck

Good luck is when opportunity and preparation collide.

The phrase has become cliché, but sometimes the cliché can transcend its original intent or meaning. For junior fullback Karl Williams, his luck came in the form of seven carries in Utah's blowout win over Washington State.

On Saturday, Karl Williams was prepared. Just as he had been every day since he stepped foot on the Utah campus in 2010 as a walk on, ensuring that he would not waste his opportunity when it came.

Seven chances that equated to 37 rushing yards, with a long of 16 and a 5.3 yard average.

William's performance was nothing earth shattering with a cursory glance. Certainly most broadcast announcers, or even local pundits will make note of the performance or find it remarkable. But that doesn't make his day any less remarkable for Williams, who was ecstatic Saturday after maximizing his rare opportunity.

The transfer from Southern Utah University walked on to the team in 2011 and earned playing time on special teams, where he had 11 total tackles, including one for a loss. On offense, used more for blocking ahead of names like John White, Harvey Langi and Kelvin York, Williams, prior to Saturday had no rushing attempts.

He had, however, a total of seven receptions, scattered randomly across Utah's nine games for a total of 74 yards and one touchdown reception. So to have had seven opportunities in one game versus the entire course of a season, indeed, was a welcomed event for Williams. It was an event that required a constant state of readiness, both physically and mentally, as he waited for the chance that could come at any time, without notice.

"They just threw me [at running back] this week. I've been playing fullback this whole time," said the exuberant Williams on the field immediately following Saturday's game. "I was so nervous coming into the game, because I haven't gotten very many reps [at running back] before."

Few make a single leap up to the brightest and biggest stage. It's usually a series of smaller steps often negated by setbacks. It is the setbacks that make the next, bigger step all the more satisfying once it arrives, if indeed it ever does again. It's how one handles the adversity that matters, and without the successes, however small, the struggle may become too difficult or trying, causing many to quit or give up their pursuit. That wasn't an option for Williams.

"I just kept working and tried not to stay strong mentally, which isn't easy. I just kept telling myself all the time that I could do it, I could do it, I could do it," Williams stated. "I had to tell myself to stay ready, to get ready for it. So when my opportunity came, I grabbed it. I took advantage, and I was definitely ready for it."

So Williams' success Saturday is reward for all the hard work, and maybe it allows him to push forward, rather than give up as so many others have. One look at the smile on Williams' face after his seven for 37 yard performance told the story; he's not about to give up, and he may as well won the MVP award at the Super Bowl. The day was his own personal triumph.

"[Kelvin York] went down and they gave me the opportunity to play running back this week, and I stepped up and made plays," Williams beamed. "I was able to get really comfortable running the football, and I'm ready for more. I'm ready to get some more reps now."

Sometimes triumphs are not measured by their cumulative effects on the world or a community, or even a team, nor are they measured by outside, disinterested parties. Rather, and perhaps more simply, triumphs are declared and claimed by those who worked toward them, accomplished them and who had a few rare moments to relish them. The viewpoint and perspective is their own, and no one has the ability to take it away - which is a small triumph in and of itself.


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