Whichever team you’re cheering in the NFL playoffs this weekend, if you call Memphis home, the Carolina Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams will surely have your rooting interest. Having just completed his eighth pro season, Williams is making the second postseason appearance of his career (and first since the 2008 season). In honor of the number he wore for the University of Memphis — one of six retired by the program — here are 20 factoids on the player many consider the greatest Tiger of them all.
1) Williams rushed for 6,026 yards over his career at the U of M, fourth in NCAA history among FBS players. The three players ahead of him on the chart — Ron Dayne, Ricky Williams, and Tony Dorsett — all won the Heisman Trophy.
2) Williams finished his college career with NCAA records for 100-yard rushing games (34) and all-purpose yardage (7,573).
3) Williams owns seven of the top ten rushing games in Memphis history, including the record of 263. He ran for 200 yards nine times.
4) Williams, Ron Dayne, and LaDainian Tomlinson are the only three FBS players with two seasons of more than 1,900 yards rushing.
5) Williams is the Carolina Panthers’ career rushing leader with 6,627 yards. The franchise has only existed since 1995 you say? Well, the Kansas City Chiefs have been playing football for 54 years and their all-time leader is Priest Holmes with 6,070 yards.
6) In 2008, Williams became the third running back in NFL history to rush for 1,500 yards (1,515) with 15 touchdowns (he led the league with 18 rushing and 20 total) and an average of 5.5 yards per carry. The first two were Hall of Famers Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson.
7) Perhaps the most remarkable stat from Williams’s 2008 season is the fact that in 273 carries, he never fumbled. Over the course of his career, he’s carried the ball 1,370 times and fumbled 11 times. (Simpson carried the ball 2,404 times and fumbled 62 times.)
8) In 2012, Williams joined Brown as the only running backs in NFL history to average five yards per carry over their first 1,000 attempts.
9) Williams is one of only three running backs in NFL history to average five yards per carry for three straight seasons with a minimum of 140 carries. The others are Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Marshall Faulk.
10) In 2009, Williams and Jonathan Stewart became the first pair of NFL teammates to each rush for 1,100 yards in the same season. That season Williams was named to his only Pro Bowl.
11) In 2011, Williams was part of the first trio of teammates to each rush for 700 yards. He gained 836 while Stewart had 761 and quarterback Cam Newton had 706.
12) In his only playoff game — on January 10, 2009 — Williams rushed for 63 yards on 12 carries in a 33-13 loss to the Super Bowl-bound Arizona Cardinals.
13) The Panthers chose Williams with the 27th pick in the 2006 NFL draft. Among the players chosen ahead of him, 13 have also made the Pro Bowl. (Heisman winner Reggie Bush, it should be noted, has not.)
14) Williams shares a birthday (April 25) with Al Pacino and Gladys Presley.
15) The University of Memphis football locker room is named in honor of Williams, who made a considerable donation to have the facility renovated.
16) Along with former Tigers Marcus Bell, Reggie Howard, and Dontari Poe, Williams cohosts the Phenomenal Four football camp at the U of M every summer. The one-day event is free to any high-school football player.
17) Williams buys a suite at the Liberty Bowl every season for Tiger football games.
18) Williams owns the Panthers’ single-game records for rushing yards (210 against New Orleans in the 2012 season finale) and rushing touchdowns (he scored four in two different games during the 2008 season).
19) Williams is one of three Memphis Tigers to be named Conference USA’s Athlete of the Year. He earned the honor for the 2005-06 academic year. The other Tigers are basketball player Chris Douglas-Roberts (2007-08) and baseball player Chad Zurcher (2010-11).
20) There are four running backs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who wore number 34, as Williams does for the Panthers: Joe Perry, Earl Campbell, Walter Payton, and Thurman Thomas.