Every summer leading into the fall, college football is dominated with discussions of preseason award watch lists. The announcement of all the top athletes vying for the most coveted awards in the sport are the talk of the town.
In 2022, however, the world was greeted with a much-needed new award, the Aeneas Williams Award. Get to know what the Aeneas Williams Award offers and why it should become a new national staple.
What is the Aeneas Williams Award?
Given out to the best defensive back from a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), the Aeneas Williams Award is presented based on character, athletic ability, and on-field performance.
Established in 2022, the award is a one-of-a-kind honor, similar to its namesake. Former Southern University walk-on and NFL Hall of Fame defensive back Aeneas Williams stood out among his peers at the national level during his time in college and the award seeks to symbolize all that is good on and off the field from defensive backs at the HBCU level.
Williams’ contributions are endless and he embodied the rich tradition that is tied into the HBCU culture.
The first winner of the Aeneas Williams Award was North Carolina Central’s Khalil Baker.
When is the Aeneas Williams Award Handed Out?
Similar to the rest of the awards at the FBS level, the preseason gives us the award’s watch list, highlighting the potential best from the HBCUs for that given season. The official banquet honoring a particular season’s winner is to be held in February following the season.
The Chickasaw Nation presents the award and the Aeneas Williams Award Banquet is set to continually be held in Oklahoma City in conjunction with the annual Paycome Jim Thorpe Award Banquet.
Who is Aeneas Williams?
A 14-year NFL veteran, Williams cut his teeth at the HBCU level in quick fashion. Walking on during his junior year at Southern University, Williams tied the NCAA Division I-AA single-season record for interceptions in just his second season with the program in 1990.
Williams was drafted in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals and spent time with the St. Louis Rams in 2001.
During his 14-year NFL career, Williams was named to the Pro Bowl eight times, made the NFL All-Pro team four times, had a Super Bowl appearance, and culminated his career with a Hall of Fame enshrinement to cap it off.
As good as he was on the field, Williams was known for his off-field contributions just as much. He was able to lead many of his teammates through rough stretches and, since his retirement, has founded the Spirit Church in St. Louis, Missouri, where he serves as the Senior Pastor.