The NFL released the college players who have decided to take the league up on their invitation to attend the draft in New York City in a couple of weeks. It’s always a dicey proposition for some of the players. It’s safe to say Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel and Sharrif Floyd will be top 12 picks, for instance. Their wait is going to be relatively short. But there are many who won’t attend, some because they’d rather be with family (That’s what Larry Fitzgerald chose a decade ago) and some because they’d rather not take the chance to be sitting around into the second round, the cameras capturing their disappointment. (That could be a reason USC QB Matt Barkley took a pass.) No one will ever forget Aaron Rodgers, potential No. 1 pick, waiting all the way until pick No. 24 (in a days of 15-minutes for each first-round selection) and getting more and more frustrated.
In the end, 23 players decided to go to New York. Are they all first-round locks? Hardly. But there is something to be said about the experience regardless. That’s what Ryan Williams thinks. When he came out in 2011, he was invited to the draft. He jumped at the chance. He acknowledges now that even if he hoped to go in the first round, had he been realistic his final season at Virginia Tech — with injuries and sharing the backfield with two other players — probably cost him any chance going in. That didn’t make waiting around Thursday night without being called any easier.
“I wasn’t thinking about what anybody was saying about me sitting back there,” Williams recalled. “I only played a year-and-a-half of football (in college). I couldn’t complain about anything that happened that day.”
That’s with time as perspective, of course. It doesn’t mean he wasn’t upset at the time, and at first he didn’t really want to return to Radio City Music Hall the next night as the second round got under way. A father figure for Williams (Williams’ father is in prison) wouldn’t let Williams stay away. “Make sure you walk that stage,” he told Williams, “because you’ll remember it the rest of your life.”
So too would the 26 people Williams had with him, from his mother — whom Williams gives all credit to getting him to where he is — to family to his friends. “I wanted not only myself but the people I am closest with to be able to experience something like that,” Williams said. “To this day, my boys and I still talk about it. I kind of did it for myself and for everybody.”
It didn’t hurt that Williams is from upstate New York and wanted to be able to go home. He was picked 38th overall to the Cardinals, and still remembers meeting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on stage, taking pictures, and then having the whole group meet him in that moment. So now, asked if he’d encourage a college kid coming out to go to New York if invited — even if the first round was a question mark — Williams doesn’t hesitate. “Heck yeah.”
“If you’re invited, go,” Williams said. “It’s something you’ll remember. Why not? … That meant a lot to me. Hey, everyone is different. If it doesn’t mean as much, or if staying home with the family means more, I get it. But if it’s a dream come true (to be on that stage), go.”
Tags: draft, Ryan Williams
Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »