Aeneas Williams Award to honor top HBCU defensive back in Division I

Pro Football Hall of Famer AENEAS WILLIAMS will have a big role in honoring the top Division I defensive back among players at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) each year. 

The Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame announced Thursday it has implemented the Aeneas Williams Award, which will go to the top defensive back playing at a Division I HBCU institution. The award will be given based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character. 

“I am honored and grateful to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and the Jim Thorpe Association for this amazing opportunity to use my name to honor the nation’s top defensive back from Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Williams said in a news release. 

Williams was a junior walk-on at Southern University and by his senior season led the nation in interceptions. He continued his collegiate career at Southern as a graduate student and fifth-year senior, being named to the All-Southwestern Athletic Conference team two consecutive years and tying the Division I-AA (now known as the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision) record for most interceptions (11).

After being drafted 59th by the Phoenix Cardinals in 1991, he went on to record 55 interceptions and was selected for the Pro Bowl eight times over his 14-year NFL career. He was a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014.

The Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame also presents the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the top NCAA Division I defensive back each year. JIM THORPE is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1963. 

The first Aeneas Williams Award will be given based on accomplishments in the 2022 season. The official presentation of the award will take place in Oklahoma City, coinciding with the presentation of the Jim Thorpe Award on Feb. 7, 2023.