If Andre Williams wins the 2013 Heisman Trophy, he’ll have many people to thank.
First, there are the obvious ones: He’ll thank God, his parents and his siblings, likely in that order.
Then there’s the big, tough, physical offensive line that wore opposing defenses down and opened gaping holes for the big back to run through on his way to an FBS-best 2,102 yards, 175.2 yards per game and five 200-plus yard outings.
Williams has gone as far as to call his O-line “nasty.”
“I just think they’ve developed a nasty streak,” Williams said late in the season. “They get after it on the field. ... I don’t know if it’s any one guy in particular, but I know when I turn on the film I definitely see [Andy Gallik] pushing somebody’s head in the ground, or Ian [White] taking two guys on or [Matt] Patchan throwing somebody across the field. They really manhandle people out there.”
There’s the coaching staff, led by Steve Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day, that installed a power run game uniquely suited to the 6-foot, 227-pounder’s bruising style. Williams finished with 946 yards after contact this season, 165 more than any other player on an AQ team.
“I don’t think anything happens on accident,” Williams said of his success this season. “It’s really just the hard work we’ve been putting in as a unit, the coaching staff really scheming up the teams well and finding the best ways to put playmakers on the field so we can make plays.”
And there’s Mark Majewski.
Wait ... who?
Majewski is an assistant director for athletic communications at BC, and he’s the one responsible for what you see when you navigate to Andre44Heisman.com. BC bought the URL as part of its push to hype Williams for the Heisman, creating a site that redirects visitors to BCEagles.com and a graphics splash page Majewski created to highlight Williams’ accomplishments in 2013.
Included on the page are links to Williams’ bio, stats and a video highlight package, along with links to the Facebook page and the Twitter account (@Andre44Heisman -- what else?) the BC athletic department staff created to share everything Andre Williams-related. Despite only being started in late November, the @Andre44Heisman Twitter account had more than 1,800 followers at last check.
The social media push has been an important part of BC’s strategy, according to Chris Cameron, BC’s associate athletic director in charge of athletic communications. Athletic director Brad Bates (@BCBradBates) has been tweeting an Andre Williams-themed nugget every day at noon, using the #Andre44Heisman hashtag to try to drum up support among his nearly 5,000 followers.
“Andre did the heavy lifting, our job was to make sure people knew about it,” Cameron wrote in an email. “Hesitant to call it a ‘campaign,’ it was more like harnessing as many media platforms as possible to raise awareness.”
“I really see us as having an obligation to promote our students in ways that best serve them, the program and the university,” Bates said in a recent phone interview. “What a man of integrity Andre Williams is, what a tremendous athlete -- in many ways he symbolizes the definition of the Heisman Trophy.”
An oft-repeated talking point for BC has been Williams’ off-the-field endeavors, which include being a teaching assistant for a freshman seminar and writing a novel entitled “A King, a Queen and a Conscience.”
“Honestly, his performance speaks for itself,” Bates said. “He’s done something that only 15 people in the history of college football have done [rushing for 2,000-plus yards in a single season] -- that’s amazing. Are you kidding me, he’s helping teach a class at Boston College right now?
“This is the kind of guy that represents Boston College and college football at its finest.”
Compared to some former Heisman campaigns -- like Northwestern’s campaign for QB Dan Persa two years ago that included a billboard, a website and seven-pound dumbbells sent to voters to emphasize the “PersaStrong” catchphrase -- BC’s push is pretty low-key.
Perhaps the most outside-the-box idea involved an old-school appeal for a new-school boost.
The BC athletic communications staff had T-shirts with the #Andre44Heisman hashtag on them made up and sent them to prominent alumni, along with a handwritten note from Bates asking the recipients to take a photo of themselves while wearing the shirt and post it on Twitter. More than a few obliged, among them former BC offensive linemen Anthony Castonzo, Gosder Cherilus and Jeremy Trueblood, former BC QB Matt Ryan (and his wife, Sarah Ryan) and, of course, the school’s lone Heisman winner, Doug Flutie.
Flutie’s photo, fittingly, had another figure in it. It was the famous Heisman Trophy, stiff-arm extended.
And if Williams manages to stiff-arm his competition and take home his own version of the famous statuette, he’ll have more than his own stellar performance to thank for it.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.