OSU's Williams should get early call

Friday, April 25th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Kevin Williams doesn't have big plans Saturday, the first day of the National Football League draft.

``Just having a little cookout here,'' Williams said from his parents' home in Fordyce, Ark.

The burgers may not even be done before Williams hears his name called. An All-Big 12 defensive tackle for Oklahoma State last season, Williams is projected to go no later than midway through the first round.

Another state player, cornerback Andre Woolfolk of Oklahoma, may be picked in the mid-to-late first round.

Williams' stock rose sharply during and after his senior season. He had the best year of his career, helping lead the Cowboys to an 8-5 finish and a victory in the Houston Bowl.

Williams made 61 tackles, 14 for loss, and had seven sacks. He points to a game against Texas as the turning point.

``This was supposed to be the No. 2 team in the country and I just dominated them,'' he said. ``It was just an attitude and mentality that I played with the rest of the year.''

Before that, ``I was just playing off talent, I guess, just expecting things to go well.''

Williams carried the momentum of his senior season into the postseason. He had a great week at the Senior Bowl, drawing raves from such NFL draft experts as Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.

The 6-foot-4 Williams, who played last season at about 290 pounds, is now listed at 304. An Associated Press thumbnail look at defensive lineman said this of Williams:

``Possesses all the tools. Athletic with quick first step and pass rush skills. Long arms. Ran a 4.82 40-yard dash. Strong against run and pass. Makes big plays. Penetrates and disrupts. Great in pursuit. Changes directions extremely well. Beats double-teams.''

Williams said he visited with the New York Jets, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals. He would prefer to be drafted by a team not far from home, or at least one that plays in a warm climate.

``But I'm going to be glad whoever calls my name,'' he said.

At least 10 defensive linemen could be selected in first round, which would be the most ever. Nine went in 1977 and 2001, eight last year.

As a first-round pick, Williams stands to make a bunch of money. He said he hasn't given much thought to how he might spend it.

``Nah, I just want to get there first,'' he said. ``Then I'm going to work on that later.''

The 6-1, 197-pound Woolfolk split time at receiver and cornerback for two seasons before playing only on defense last year. He finished his career with 54 tackles and three interceptions.

Woolfolk was a disappointment at the Senior Bowl, but has a big upside. He's versatile, a tremendous athlete and has a nice combination of size and speed.

His position coach at Oklahoma, Mike Stoops, has always raved about Woolfolk.

``He has the size, the range,'' Stoops said last season. ``You love everything he shows you.''