Fayetteville (NWAOnline.com) - Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams was named the recipient of the Disney Spirit Award on Monday for the "most inspirational figure" in college football.
The senior was also named a semi-finalist Monday for the Mackey Award, given to the nation's best tight end.
In a release announcing the decision, Disney said it chose Williams because of his work advocating domestic abuse awareness, stemming from his own experience as a child. Williams, his sister and his mother moved from Dallas to Little Rock during his childhood to escape an abusive household.
Williams has spoken openly about the experience, including in this ESPN article last year.
"I will accept this award on behalf of my mother, my sisters and the entire Razorback family," Williams said in the release. "Watching my mother, who never quit, is the inspiration for me each day and a lesson for us all. My hope is the story of my family will show those who are experiencing a similar ordeal that they are not alone and there is help and a way out. To be recognized by Disney Sports and to join the list of recipients of this award is humbling and a blessing I'll share with my family."
Williams is the NCAA's active leader in receptions (140) and receiving yards (1,719) by a tight end. He also has nine career touchdowns.
"He's a special football player and a special person," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino siad. "I've always enjoyed since I've been here just being around him.
"He's a great spokesman for our team and for our university."
In Saturday's 58-21 win over UTEP, Williams recorded five catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with what is believed to be a minor shoulder injury