After the NFL draft is concluded, teams will be searching for the next big UDFA signing.
The next Tony Romo. The next James Harrison. The next Antonio Gates. A diamond in the rough.
Jarvis Williams, a defensive lineman from Eastern Illinois, is hoping to be the next big diamond in the rough in the NFL.
His football career has taken many stops, and Williams is working hard to make sure the ride isn’t over.
“Coming out of high school I didn’t have the grades to qualify for a college so I went to Antelope Valley College to improve my academics which I then received my associate’s degree,” said Williams. “I also improved my performance on the football field.”
During his time at Antelope Valley College Williams earned Southern California Football Association All-Pacific Coast First Team honors, recording 45 tackles (23 solo), four sacks, 13 tackles for loss and a forced fumble as a sophomore defensive tackle. During freshman year at AVC he made 22 tackles with one sack and three tackles for loss. After his two seasons at AVC were over, he looked to transfer.
“I had a couple offers after my last season at Antelope Valley college but I chose Troy University because it was my only D1 scholarship and my cousin was signing there as well,” said Williams. “I enrolled at Troy University in the fall of 2014.”
Williams redshirted his junior season at Troy, and was looking forward to big things in the 2015 season. However after 23 years as the Trojans head coach, Larry Blakeney retired.
“The coaching staff change drastically which led me to pursue my football dream elsewhere,” Williams said. “After getting my release papers from Troy the head coach from Eastern Illinois called me to give me an offer to come play ball here on full scholarship. I took the opportunity with no hesitation.”
During his junior season, Williams played in all 12 games, starting seven at defensive tackle. He recorded 34 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and an interception that he returned for a touchdown.
His biggest performance came against Northwestern, where he had nine tackles and a sack.
His senior season, he was named a team captain, and started all 11 games at defensive tackle. He had 48 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss (3rd in the Ohio Valley Conference) and 5.5 sacks (3rd in the OVC).
His biggest performance once again came against FBS competition, as he registered 10 tackles, including two for loss, and the game-sealing sack on the final play against Miami Ohio.
“That was very big for me because that was a big confidence booster for the team to start off the season on the right path,” Williams said. “It was also big for me personally because I knew I could compete on the highest level going into the game and that was the staple play to show my potential.”
After his college career was over, Williams started to prepare for the next level.
“I have dropped 30 pounds since my last college game,” said Williams, who played at 270 pounds while in college. “I plan on playing DE/LB or potentially FB at the next level if need be.”
Williams feels ready to make the change from playing defensive tackle to more of a speed position of DE or LB.
“It’s not really an adjustment because I been playing DE my whole high school/college career,” Williams said “I even played some here at EIU as well. I’m familiar and comfortable with all positions on the defensive line.”
Next up was his Pro Day at Northwestern.
He measured in at 5-11, 246 pounds and ran a 4.9 40-yard dash.
Williams knows that his height might cause some NFL teams to write him off, but he is ready for any obstacle.
“My height hinders my publicity but not my performance,” said Williams. “I just want scouts to look at my potential not my height. I have worked hard for this dream since day one and I won’t stop until I get I my opportunity. I know I can compete on a high level but I just need a team to give me a chance to show that.”
As for potentially playing for the Rams, Williams said it would be an “honor”.