In the early 2000’s, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams was an extremely talented running back who led an undefeated Auburn football team in 2004 before doing great things in the National Football League, too.
Carnell Williams has been remembered for his dominance at Auburn University, but now he has returned to build that legacy to an even more legendary level.
Head coach Gus Malzahn brought the former first-round NFL Draft pick back as the running backs coach in 2019. Cadillac is already one of the most important Tigers in school history, and if he stays part of the coaching staff for years to come, he might move even further up the AU coaching tree.
Cadillac Williams Auburn
During Williams’ time at Auburn, he was the top running back in his last year for the 2004 Tigers team that finished the season undefeated, yet didn’t get a shot at the BCS National Championship. That same year, Williams split carries with senior running back Ronnie Brown to form one of college football’s best two-headed monsters.
In four seasons on The Plains, Williams rushed for 3,831 yards and 45 touchdowns. He finished his career less than 500 yards behind Bo Jackson as the school’s all-time leading rusher, but he did top Jackson for the career record for touchdowns, scoring two more than the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Williams still ranks 14th in SEC history for career rushing yards and sixth in rushing touchdowns.
His best rushing performances in an Auburn uniform came in the 2003 Iron Bowl, racking up 204 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries against the Alabama Crimson Tide. On top of that, Cadillac rumbled for an Auburn-record six rushing touchdowns against Mississippi State that same year.
Cadillac Williams’ 80-Yard TD Opens 2003 Iron Bowl
In fact, one of Cadillac’s most memorable plays for Auburn may have been the very first snap of that 2003 Iron Bowl. Eighty of his 204 yards against Alabama came on one single play.
Nothing riles up the crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium quite like a monster touchdown against Auburn’s nemesis.
And of course, who can forget the call from longtime radio voice of the Auburn Tigers Rod Bramblett?
Go Crazy, Cadillac!
High Mileage on the Cadillac
After rushing for 2,472 yards and 39 touchdowns in his final two collegiate seasons, Williams was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It didn’t take long for him to show why he was selected so highly. As a rookie, Williams rushed for 1,178 and six touchdowns, earning NFL Rookie of the Year honors. But with 310 touches in 14 games his first season, that workload took a toll on him. Ultimately, Williams’ career lasted only 81 games in seven seasons, six with the Buccaneers and one with the St. Louis Rams before his retirement.
Cadillac’s Coaching Career
Once Williams was out of football as a player, he turned his attention to the sideline. In 2015, he began as the running backs coach at Henderson State, and then went to the University of West Georgia in 2016. He made another stop as a high school running backs coach at IMG Academy for two seasons.
The Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football hired Williams as their running backs coach in 2018. After the AAF folded, Gus Malzahn brought Cadillac back to The Plains to mold the next generation of great Auburn running backs.
“One of the main reasons I got into coaching was to give back and serve others. I want to help players reach their ultimate goal and steer them the right way on and off the field. I’m not sure there’s a better place I can do that than at Auburn, where I’m forever indebted. I’m excited to get to work. I can’t wait to meet the players and staff, get involved in the community and help get Auburn to the championship level year in and year out that we know we are capable of.”
— Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, via Auburn AthleticsAdvertisement
Williams replaced Tim Horton, a position he had held since 2013. Between his time at Arkansas and Auburn since 2007, Horton coached some extremely talented SEC running backs including Darren McFadden and Tre Mason.
Since he has some pretty big shoes to fill, Williams will need to show he wasn’t just talented as a runner, but can teach the game as well. In 2019 under his watch, Auburn’s 2,588 rushing yards and 199 rushing yards per game ranked fifth and fourth in the SEC, respectively.
If he can continue to do that at a level equal to his play career, Cadillac Williams will go down as one of the all-time greats in Tigers’ football history.
This post was originally published on September 24, 2019.