He was never listed as a five-star high school athlete on rivals.com.
Now, six games into the 2007 season, Washburn senior cornerback Cary Williams is playing like he should have been a heavily-pursued blue chip recruit.
Williams has displayed the type of versatility over which NFL talent scouts drool.
Against the Missouri Southern Lions Oct. 6, Williams exploded for a 68-yard receiving touchdown, had a 100-yard kickoff return for a score and was one defender away from a 100-yard interception return.
Williams dealt with much adversity on his way to Washburn. He grew up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Miami and, after attending several different high schools in Florida, accepted a scholarship to play football for the Division I-AA Fordham University Rams in 2003.
Williams’ sophomore season with the Rams was cut short because of separate suspensions, which totaled five games. Incidents involving an argument with the defensive coordinator and a player on the team led to the suspensions and his eventual release from the team.
“I was immature back then and have learned from mistakes,” said Williams. “I realized it was time to step up and be mature. [Being released] also made me realize what I needed to be acting like if I wanted to play football.”
Keita Malloy provided Williams with guidance and an opportunity to keep playing football. Malloy was an assistant coach at Washburn in 2001 but left for a coaching position at Fordham. Malloy talked with Williams about the importance of changing his attitude if he wanted to continue playing football.
Malloy then contacted Washburn football coach Craig Schurig to inform him that Williams was a player at which he should take a hard look. After a campus visit, Schurig welcomed Williams to the university with open arms.
“Coach Schurig has a different attitude than my past coaches,” said Williams. “He’s a players’ coach. He’s still a strict guy, but he actually listens and cares about his players and brings out the positives rather than talking to you in a negative light.”
Williams, a physical education major, is considering pursuing a master’s degree in sports management. If he is not playing football professionally, Williams hopes to stay in football as a coach or utilize his degree to become an athletics director.
“It’s up in the air right now, and anything can happen,” said Williams of his NFL prospects. “Whether I get drafted or signed out of free agency, I’m going to make the best of my opportunities because I’m a competitor. It doesn’t matter what position I play, some scouts are saying that I could play safety or come up and play corner.”
Schurig thinks that Williams might be the best cornerback in the country at the Division II level. Schurig sees a lot of similarities between Williams and former Washburn cornerback Fletcher Terrell, who was nearly signed this year as a rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“NFL scouts are coming to watch Cary, and I think that they will give him a serious look,” said Schurig. “He is an exceptional player who has the ability to play in man and zone coverage. He’s really smart – as well as being really long. We have had a number of All-Americans over the past few years and I think Cary is on his way to being another one.”