Thanksgiving has two vital words for Terps' Williams

November 26, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Over the years, Thanksgiving has become the forgetful holiday.

Don't forget the cranberry sauce. Don't forget the stuffing. Don't forget the pumpkin pie. When it comes down to it, the feast outweighs everything else on the holiday.

But to Edwin Williams, the University of Maryland's senior center, the day of food, family and football comes down to two main parts - Thanks and giving.

"I'm thankful for so much," he said. "I'm thankful that I lasted five years. I'm thankful to have my family and all of my brothers here, my teammates, everybody around me, and having the ability to play football."


Playing football has been a major part of Williams' life. He is an all-Atlantic Coast Conference candidate and has basically become the spokesman for the Terrapins' at the weekly media conferences. He is as fierce and as competitive as they come.

But today, he plans to take the day off. There will be a truce for all on-field battles - at least for a couple of hours - to take time for real fellowship.

Enter Obumnemeoburomnemeochukwuneme Peter Peter-Damian Akunyili, better known as Obum to the Terps. He is a 6-foot-3, 325-pound redshirt freshman who works on Maryland's scout team. He is just learning the game of football, since he was born in England and didn't understand or start playing until he was a sophomore at St. Anne's Bellfield School in Charlottesville, Va.

On the practice field, Williams and Akunyili are the closest thing Maryland has to archenemies. On this day, Akunyili is close as Williams' guest.

"It's kind of funny," said Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen. "We were talking about Thanksgiving and I asked the players if everyone had somewhere to go. Obum raised his hand. I told him he could come to my house. Edwin said, 'I got him covered.'"

Then came the funny part.

"Obum is one of those guys on the scout team that can't be blocked when he tries," Friedgen said. "Edwin has got in a couple of fights during practice with him. That goes to show you something about these guys. I didn't think they were friends. ... Sometimes these guys make me laugh."

Thanksgiving is one of the holidays where no one should be left alone. Williams sort of knows the feeling, but he also knows what it's like to belong.

"My family is out of town. They always go out of town for Thanksgiving, so I usually spend it at a friend's place," said Williams, a DeMatha graduate from Washington. "It's a good old high school friend's place and their family is like my family, so it'll be good."

Williams said that other players would be welcomed at the Thanksgiving dinner table if they were not expected there. It's part of the holiday spirit.

And he likes most of those guys, especially on the field, but even though Williams and Akunyili have competitive differences, it is nothing personal.

Especially on Thanksgiving.

"Of course I'll invite him if he doesn't have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving," Williams said. "He's one of my boys."

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