Comments From Mike Riley On Justin Williams
July 26, 2004
CORVALLIS, Ore. - -
'We are in the midst of taking our time with our team and putting our thoughts together for Justin Williams and his family. Certainly, our prayers and thoughts go out to Bob Moore, his step-father, and (mother) Jackie (Williams) and his family.
'We loved Justin. He was a great part of our family here at Oregon State. In 28 years of coaching, I've never experienced losing one of our team like this. It's just a very difficult time for everyone associated with our university and especially with our football team. We will do everything we can to honor Justin, and we will never forget him.'
'Everything else diminishes. I think it helps us reflect on other things that are more important and the value of our relationships. Justin was Jackie and Bob's son, and he was our team's teammate. He was a brother to his brother and sister. He was our guy. Everything else fades and nothing seems to be real important to talk about. For a family, this is an inconsolable grief, and nothing we can say can really capture what's important.'
HOW DID HE FIT IN WITH THE TEAM?
'Like all of our guys. Every guy is one of the team. Every person that is on a team is on a team for a reason. He was loved and respected by our team.'
WHAT WAS HE LIKE?
'Justin had a great personality. Justin's smile would capture you - he was fun to be around. Like all of us in our lives, we've got things we're dealing with, but his intentions were to do everything he could to be a part of this team and help this team. Every time he walked by my office, he'd be a guy who had to stick his head in and say 'How're you doing Coach Riley?' I'll never forget those moments, and I'm sure every person in our athletic department and our football team have those thoughts.'
WHAT KINDS OF LESSONS DID YOU IMPART ON THE PLAYERS?
'There are thousands of lessons that we all have to learn and we'll go over and over with our team, but this is a time that we just gathered together to remember Justin and to put our thoughts together about what has just happened and to look ahead to what is going to happen in the next week.'
DID YOU RECRUIT HIM YOURSELF?
'No. I was not part of the recruiting. (Former head coach) Dennis (Erickson) and his staff recruited Justin. For us, this year, he was a redshirt freshman.'
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU PERSONALLY?
'It affects Dennis' staff too. He's been in touch with (Director of Operations) Ron Davis about Justin and some arrangements. Some of the coaches - (former assistants) Craig Bray and Al Simmons - who recruited him have been a part of it. It immediately affects our staff and everyone of our teammates. All of our people are affected in our own individual ways. All we know is that Justin was part of our family and we loved him.'
ARE THERE ANY PLANS FOR HONORING JUSTIN?
'We are formulating different plans that will take place in the next little while.'
HOW DID YOU LEARN OF THE TRAGEDY?
'I was in Texas, and if you get a call at one o' clock in the morning, that's probably not very good.'
IN THE SECONDARY, YOU GUYS ARE A PRETTY CLOSE-KNIT UNIT, HOW MUCH DOES THIS AFFECT YOU?
'We're pretty close. It's devastating, not just for the secondary but for the whole team.'
IS THERE A SENSE OF SHOCK?
'It's kind of surreal, it just happened so fast. I really don't know what to say about it. It's something hard for me to handle and express my feelings to people I don't really know and didn't really know him.'
HOW WELL DID YOU KNOW HIM?
'We were position buddies - played the same position. We went to practice everyday together and had meetings together everyday before practice, so we were pretty close.'
TALK ABOUT HIS DREAMS AND HOW HARD HE WORKED?
'I don't know what his dreams were firsthand, but I'm pretty sure he wanted to take this to the next level like every other guy on the team.'
WHAT'S GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND?
'There's a lot going through my mind. It's something tough to take as a teammate to lose someone like this. I really don't know how I feel, to be honest. I really can't tell you guys exactly how I feel.'
HOW DOES THIS CHANGE THE WAY YOU VIEW LIFE?
'I just don't want to take anything for granted, because things happen and something like this is just very tough for us as a team to cope with. I'm just going to live life like it's my last day and always put my best foot forward in whatever I do.'