Williams goes small town for final college season Print
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Thursday, 17 July 2008 12:43
NCAAF Headline News

 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -Willie Williams has landed in small-town USA, far away from his old hang outs, for one final chance to approach the hype that followed the talented but trouble-prone linebacker out of high school.
The former Parade All-American is taking his game to Division II Glenville State in West Virginia, a place known for giving second chances to tarnished athletes.
Miami and Louisville it's not. The hilltop college is in a town of 1,500 people and in a county with only two grocery stores and four gas stations. The nearest big city, Pittsburgh, is 157 miles to the north.
``I'm using that to my advantage,'' Williams said. ``It's best sometimes to fly under the radar. You'll get more things accomplished.
``I feel this was the perfect place for me.''
Kicked off the Louisville team last September after his arrest on drug charges, Williams arrived at Glenville in January for the second semester, played spring football and is paying his own way to take two summer classes toward a degree in business administration.
He'll be a senior on scholarship in the fall and plans to graduate next year.
Coming to a place where pastures outnumber people - mall, what mall? - might send some scurrying back to familiar surroundings. Williams is aware there isn't a lot to do here yet is determined to make the sacrifice. He hasn't been back to his hometown of Miami once since arriving.
He used the word ``focused'' four times in describing his ambitions and rural surroundings in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press.
``It's kind of new to me,'' he said. ``I'm used to the University of Miami and Louisville - the big things. But sometimes good things come in small packages. Everybody supports everybody around here to get things accomplished. That's the nice thing about it.''
Williams' Glenville State connection was Jerry Seymour, a teammate at Monsignor Pace High School in Miami. Seymour is another Glenville reconstruction project.
He was an all-Mid-American Conference running back at Central Michigan in 2004, then was suspended from the team and served jail time for his involvement in a fatal beating outside a bar. Seymour was out of school for two years and transferred to Glenville for the 2007 season, when he set a school record with 1,714 rushing yards.
Williams' past still follows him.
Self-nicknamed ``The Predator'' in high school, Williams was arrested 11 times before playing a down in college. He played in 10 games as a freshman at Miami but never started, transferred to West Los Angeles Community College for one season, ended up at Louisville in 2007 and played only three games.
Coach Alan Fiddler admits some surprise when he was contacted by Williams, who was convicted for marijuana possession last October in Louisville, Ky., but will avoid jail time if he stays clean.
``We just brought him in, had a heart-to-heart discussion and let him know what we expected so we were all on the same page,'' Fiddler said. ``He's trying to turn things around and get back to where he was coming out of high school, when he was one of the top prospects in the nation.
``He's made some bad decisions. Most of Willie's troubles were when he was a minor. Hopefully he's matured.''
Williams said there were no promises exchanged with Fiddler like those made - and later broken - with Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich.
``It was just like 'Willie, you know what you've got to do,''' Williams said. ``I realize the mistakes I've made in the past. All I can do is change and grow from it. Coach talked to me like I was a grown man. I interpret that better than a promise or something because he came to me like it was man to man.''
Seymour said people shouldn't worry about him and Williams getting into trouble at Glenville.
``There's only two things to do - play ball and go to school,'' Seymour said. ``We're thankful. They took a chance on us that not many other schools would have took. They're putting their image on the line for us. We're just working hard.''
Welcoming players who were rejected by other colleges for past indiscretions has been well documented in West Virginia.
The poster child is Rand native Randy Moss, who lost scholarships at Notre Dame and Florida State before starring at Marshall a decade ago. There's also Ahmad Bradshaw, who was kicked off the Virginia football team and flourished at Marshall.
Now, there's Williams, who knows this is the end of the line. Behave and perform. NFL teams might be watching, and even then, they'll have reservations about his character.
Fiddler said one NFL scout recently asked him about Williams.
``They really told me to emphasize to him to dominate on the field and do things right off the field,'' Fiddler said.
The decision's yours, Willie.
``I have ultimate goals in my life,'' Williams said. ``It's motivation for me.''
 

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