Argos Twiggy-thin at RB

Injured Argo running back Ricky Williams plows into fellow RB John Williams during practice in...

Injured Argo running back Ricky Williams plows into fellow RB John Williams during practice in Mississauga, Ont., on Tuesday. John Williams will start tonight against the Montreal Alouettes. (Toronto Sun/Alex Urosevic)

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

MONTREAL -- John Williams escapes from the shadow of anonymity and into football's spotlight in rather dramatic style.

Known more as the Argos' other Williams running back and to teammates as a catalyst on special teams, John Williams gets to start at tailback for the first time in the CFL when the depleted Argos take on the mighty Montreal Alouettes tonight.

It's a matchup that pits the CFL's No. 1 team against an Argos lineup that likely will start Spergon Wynn (a second-stringer at quarterback) and Williams (listed fourth on the club's depth chart) in arguably the highest-profile positions on a football field.

But with so many injuries at running back, Williams will be asked to carry the load.

Regardless of the circumstances, Williams is elated at the opportunity, a moment for which he and his football-savvy family have waited a long time.

"In the CFL, it's hard for a Canadian running back to run the ball," Williams, who lives in Hamilton, said. "I'm just ecstatic to be given that chance."

Williams, who is in his fourth CFL season and third in Double Blue, hasn't started at running back since his college days at Edinboro.

When he was told of the club's plans two days ago, Williams informed his father, John (Twiggy) Williams, a former Grey Cup champion and a frequent visitor to Argos practices. In fact, they are the only father/son combination to have won the Grey Cup.

"My dad is like me," John Williams said. "We're pretty laid back. When I told him, he couldn't contain (his excitement)."

With John Avery and Jeff Johnson expected back next week, Williams knows his start tonight may be his only one for quite some time.

"There's nothing like being in the backfield," Williams, 28, said. "Since I was 10 years old, I've been a running back."

Despite the long odds and even longer injury list, Williams expects the Argos to play hard.

"We've had more than our share of injuries," he said. "Teams either go down in flames or they have people who want to step up. I like to be one of those contributors."

Fans of the Argos, even the most diehard, can be excused if they never have heard of Williams, who spends most of the time on the field flying around on special teams.

"He's one of those under-rated guys on our team," head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons said. "He's been such a stalwart on special teams and he's not even talked about."

Occasionally, the senior Williams would approach Clemons following an Argos practice and give his opinion of John Williams' versatility.

"John's dad reminds me that he can and should be a contributor on offence and not just on special teams," Clemons said. "Maybe this was a little mind power at play."


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