Former University of Texas running back Ricky Williams, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1998, is expected to join the football staff at the University of the Incarnate Word this season as a graduate assistant, UIW officials said Thursday.
Williams, who lives in Austin, met with head coach Larry Kennan on Wednesday and toured the UIW campus.
"It's one of those things where the stars and the moon will align in perfect order on this thing," Kennan said. "Ricky is looking to get into coaching, and we have an opening. Beyond that, there's not much more I can say because he hasn't gone through the hiring process."
But another source said Williams' hiring is imminent.
Kennan, a former NFL coach who is preparing for his third season at UIW, confirmed that Williams visited UIW on Wednesday.
"He's a very down-to-earth, humble person," Kennan said. "He doesn't come on like some hot shot who won the Heisman Trophy."
Kennan learned about Williams' interest in coaching through Williams' representative, Danny Martoe, sources said. Kennan, who was executive director of the NFL Coaches Association for 14 years before joining UIW in December 2011, has known Martoe for years, the sources said.
While Kennan and UIW athletic director Mark Papich said Williams hasn't been hired officially, sources said Williams will start working with the Cardinals in early August after he returns from a trip out of the country.
Williams, 36, will fill a slot on Kennan's coaching staff vacated by Jonathan Patke, who left UIW this summer after earning his master's degree in May.
"Our players are very excited about this," Kennan said.
The Cards start practice July 31. UIW, which played in Division II in its first four seasons, is moving up to Division I as an independent this year.
The Cards are also moving into the Southland Conference this year after competing in the Lone Star Conference the past two seasons.
Williams held 21 NCAA records, including the career rushing mark, when he completed his career at UT in 1998.
"His experience will be a big help to our staff and players, and I think he will have a positive effect on our recruiting efforts," Kennan said in a UIW news release.
Williams played for the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens during his 11-year NFL career, which ended with his retirement after the 2011 season.
"We knew that the move to Division I would increase the talent pool of candidates for staffing positions as they became available," Papich said in the UIW release. "When Coach Kennan approached me regarding Ricky as a potential addition to our staff, it reinforced what we already believed to be true."
"The potential to bring someone with the athletic experience of Ricky Williams to work with our student-athletes will enhance their exposure to elite level football."