FAYETTEVILLE – Former University of Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams, the first Razorback in school history to be named a finalist for the AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award, joins four other finalists in New York City beginning Sunday for the presentation of the distinguished national amateur athlete award.
Williams and the other finalists are staying at the historic New York Athletic Club, which was founded in 1868 to grow and develop amateur sports in the United States. All festivities surrounding the awards presentation also are being held at the NYAC, which is located across the street from the south edge of Central Park. The first activity is a Sunday evening dinner for the finalists, their guests and the AAU staff.
Monday’s schedule starts with lunch featuring the finalists and the AAU staff before they move to the 9th floor of the club for a walk-through of the ceremony. Later Monday afternoon, the finalists are set for media interviews and an autograph session for ceremony attendees, followed by a private dinner for the finalists and their families.
The 2010 Sullivan ceremony, during which the 81st winner of the award will be announced, begins at 7:20 p.m. Eastern time. The ceremony is set to last one hour, and then the festivities conclude with a dessert hour.
Presented annually since 1930, the Sullivan Award honors the nation’s most outstanding amateur athlete and is based on leadership, character and sportsmanship. Past winners include Michael Phelps, Michael Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, Michelle Kwan and Mark Spitz.
Williams ended his Arkansas career this past season as part of the first team in school history to play in a BCS game. The Little Rock, Ark., native had 152 career receptions, the second-highest total in school history and the most by a non-wide receiver, and 1,855 receiving yards, which ranks eighth on UA’s all-time list. He won the Disney Spirit Award, which is given to the most inspirational player, team or figure in college football, on Nov. 15 and was named the Mackey Award Winner as the nation’s top tight end on Dec. 9. He was the first Razorback to win either award.
In his final season, Williams led the team with 54 receptions, the fourth-highest single-season total in school history, and accounted for 627 receiving yards and a career-high four touchdowns. He was named first-team All-SEC by the Associated Press and the conference’s coaches and also was named to the SEC Community Service Team. His 4.2 receptions-per-game average ranked seventh in the SEC in 2010.