With nothing but dwindling seconds left in his career as a college quarterback, Troy Williams bent down, swiftly untied the laces on his left cleat and held it up toward the sideline.
He needed to come out of the game.
Turns out, Williams took himself off the field in his final appearance.
Utah’s senior quarterback then jogged off the field in the final moments of the 30-14 win over West Virginia in the 2017 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl in Dallas on Tuesday afternoon. The decision personified the “C” stitched onto the jersey of the two-time team captain.
Williams jogged off so redshirt freshman and walk-on quarterback Drew Lisk, a graduate of Jordan High, could take the last snaps of Utah’s 2017 season. Lisk, who served as Utah’s primary scout team QB this season, handed off the ball once to senior backup running back Jordan Howard then kneeled out the clock, cementing Utah’s fourth straight bowl win and 11th under coach Kyle Whittingham.
After the game ended, videos of Williams’ kind gesture began circulating on Twitter.
His final act at Utah surprised no one.
Williams, who went 9-4 as a starter in 2016, was elected a team captain for the second straight season in 2017, becoming the first Utah quarterback to be named team captain in back-to-back seasons since Brian Johnson in 2007 and 2008. Just days later in fall camp, the senior from Carson, Calif., received news that he’d be the backup quarterback in 2017, having lost his job to sophomore Tyler Huntley.
Williams eventually started three games in 2017 due to injuries to Huntley. He led the Utes to bowl eligibility in his final start on Nov. 25 against Colorado. Williams rushed for two touchdowns in the 34-13 win over the Buffaloes.
The senior’s continued leadership was lauded throughout the season by teammates and coaches.
Said Whittingham after the win over Colorado: “[He] never sulked, never pouted, work ethic never dropped off, his preparation never dropped off. He was prepared every single week. It’s a credit to who he is as a person.”
Williams leaves Utah with a 10-6 record as a starting quarterback, claiming wins over hometown schools such as USC and UCLA a year ago and leading Utah to a win after Huntley’s first-half injury at Arizona on Sept. 22. He arrived in Salt Lake City as a transfer in 2016 after leaving Washington and returning to Southern California for a year of junior college.
“College hasn’t really been what I expected,” he said after the win over Colorado, “but I’m glad I’ve been through it all. It made me stronger, a lot smarter and made me a lot more appreciative of what I have today.”
And it turns out, Williams’ last audible was among his best.
Upon hearing news of being elected a team captain by his peers in August, Williams said the “C” on his jersey meant more than walking to midfield for the coin toss. It was about being there for his teammates, offering rides to-and-from places or fixing flat tires on the side of the road.
“It’s more of a ownership thing,” he said. “It’s not really like an award, I would say.”