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Houston Duo of Williams & Dotson Has Long Been Waiting For This Moment

Football season is here and the anticipation is almost unbearable. But if John Williams and Alonzo Dotson have learned anything over the past four years, it’s patience. Without it, both would have checked in their gear and headed home to Houston a long time ago.

Faced with a seemingly non-stop schedule of grueling workouts, 110-degree practices, a demanding academic agenda and no real guarantee of ever cracking the lineup, players with more talent have called it a career.

While Williams and Dotson have suffered through their share of struggles and frustrations since arriving on the University of Oklahoma campus as highly-touted recruits back in 2003, the two friends have somehow managed to persevere.

And as the 2007 season kicks off, both may finally have a chance to flourish.

“This has been a dream of ours since we got here — two Houston boys going out there and getting it done together,” said Dotson, a fifth-year senior defensive end who has seen action in only 11 career games. “John and I have faced some different hurdles along the way.
There have been some not-so-great times here and we’ve both had our disappointments.

“But we’ve fought through it all and earned the chance to make a difference on the field.”

The 6-foot-4, 262-pound Dotson turned down scholarship offers from places like Notre Dame, Texas and UCLA to sign with Bob Stoops’ Sooners, who were just three years removed from winning a national championship. Dotson, who played his high school ball at the Houston suburb of Alief Hastings, figured it was a only a matter of time before he was racking up sacks and helping OU to another national title.

Dotson’s mindset was no different than practically every other major recruit the Sooners bring in each February, and his bloodline suggested his chances for playing at the next level were quite promising since his uncle (Santana Dotson) and his grandfather (Alfonse Dotson) had both enjoyed stints in the NFL.

After redshirting as a freshman and spending all of his second season working in a backup role, Dotson was ready to make some noise as the 2005 season approached. But he never got the chance.

“We were getting ready to start preseason practice and I found out I didn’t have enough hours toward my major,” explained Dotson. “Without those hours, I wasn’t eligible to play. Just like that, all of my expectations for that season were gone. It was a real blow.”

Meanwhile, Williams had worked his way into the rotation during preseason camp. And when starter Larry Birdine suffered a torn biceps prior to the 2005 season opener, Williams found himself suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

In not only his first start but the first game of his career, the Houston Lamar product looked more like a veteran than a rookie. He recorded four tackles, including a sack, and recovered a fumble before suffering a serious knee injury that would trouble him for almost two full seasons.

“Just when it looked like I had a chance to do something positive, I got hurt. It was so disappointing because I felt like I had worked hard to put myself in that position,” explained Williams, who redshirted in 2003 and was limited to non-playing backup duties the following season.

With Dotson struggling to figure out which direction he was going to go — either suck it up and turn things around or turn off his dreams and go home — he suddenly had some company on the sideline in the form of the injured Williams, who underwent surgery on his torn anterior cruciate a few days later.

The two Houston kids, together again — but seemingly no closer to realizing their aspirations than they were three seasons earlier.

“I met Alonzo at a photo shoot in Houston our senior season in high school and we became pretty tight after a while. We stuck together through those tough times and tried to be supportive of each other as possible,” Williams said. “I think going through that season together really helped keep us pointed in the right direction.”

Dotson eventually got his academics in order and his pride survived a stint with the scout team. By the time the 2006 season rolled around, he had earned a spot as a key backup to starters Birdine and C.J. Ah You.

Although he did not put up any eye-popping statistics — nine tackles and two sacks in 11 games — Dotson proved he was ready to take that next step.

“Alonzo never quit. He worked on every aspect of being a better student-athlete and it has started to pay off for him,” offered defensive ends coach Chris Wilson. “He showed glimpses of what he is capable of last season, and you have to like the way he is progressing right now.”

As for Williams, he played in eight games last fall. But after reinjuring his knee during the spring, he never really got his legs solidly under him in 2006. As a result, he recorded just four tackles and was never really a big factor.

Now, with the knee back to 100 percent, the 6-5, 260-pound senior is chomping at the bit to show what he can do.

Editor's Note: That is just a portion of the feature on Dotson and Williams that appears in the August issue of Sooner Spectator. Subscribe now and read the rest of the story and a whole lot more. Call toll free 1-888-335-4385 M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.