As you stand there in the tunnel, peering out onto the field, all the emotions start setting in. A dream that you thought might never come true is about to be realized. It was a dream that you had for a long time. It was a dream that might never have happened if you listened to those around you.
Sometimes you just need to figure things out yourself. Sure, you were 155 pounds soaking wet while playing football at Bishop Timon-St. Jude. Sure, you had the chance to walk on and play Division I basketball at Niagara University.
But, there was something telling you to pursue your dream. To pursue a chance to run out of a tunnel in front of 25,000 screaming fans on a Saturday afternoon. A chance to play at the highest level when it comes to college football.
As you get ready to run out of that tunnel, the emotions of the hard work you put in the offseason comes to the forefront. No longer are you 155 pounds. You are now a man about to realize your dream.
The band is playing and it’s your cue for you and your teammates to run out in front of 25,000 screaming fans. Your dream has now become a reality
“I’ll never forget that experience running through the smoke and fireworks to 25,000 plus fans,” stated Jordan Williams. “I never had doubt in my abilities to be able to perform at a high level.”
Williams was all ready to give up football and walk on at Division I Niagara University when he had second thoughts. While he loved the sport of basketball, and excelled at a very high level while at Timon, his heart was saying something different.
Williams decided to give football a chance. For him to realize his dream of playing at the highest level he would have to put int he work. No one was going to take a chance on a 155 pound kid from the South Buffalo school.
Williams knew he needed to bulk up and put the dedication in the weight room to become a special talent.
“I wasn’t an All-American, I wasn’t a 5-star recruit, I wasn’t the strongest, quickest, or fastest. But the reason why I believe I am where I am today is because I worked my tail off and work to perfect my craft,” stated Williams. “So that when my number is called on that big stage again I’ll remember times when I felt like quitting, the 5 a.m. workouts, being told by a team that I didn’t make it, and just the overall grind it has been to get to that point. Those are the things I think about on a daily basis.”
His story could have ended right there. He did what he needed to do and got to live a dream he;s been thinking about since he was a little boy. But, the journey had just begun. His journey was taking him to two different schools and a couple of different positions.
Life would have been easy after high school. Williams could have just committed to a school and play out his four years and be done with it. But, in life, nothing is ever easy. Williams knew from the very beginning that his journey has just started.
That journey took him to Edinboro then to Liberty just to finish back up at Edinboro. While at Liberty he was asked to play defensive back - a position he didn’t dabble into much at Timon. He redshirted and learned from those that knew the game. He excelled at was happy for the experience.
At Edinboro he went back to his natural position of wide receiver. He was a standout wide out at Timon, but didn’t really learn position He used more of his natural abilities to succeed in high school. During his spring at Liberty, Williams had switched back to receiver and started learning the position.
“It was great being able to switch back to receiver at Edinboro. Before I transferred back, I switched to receiver for spring ball at Liberty and that’s when I learned more about the receiver position, and to be able to take all those years at Liberty back to Edinboro was exciting,” he said. “When I got back to Edinboro at receiver it was like I never left and played DB. I knew that not having a lot of film was going to hurt me, so I knew my senior year had to be a spectacular year. To be able to come back and be apart of a great coaching staff and a great team, to go 9-2 from an 0-11 season record from the year before. It was the biggest comeback by any team in Division 2 history, and I felt honored to be apart of that.”
Through all the ups and downs of a college career it would have been easy for Williams to get down on himself. But he was able to put his faith him friends, family and more importantly God to get him through the struggles that a normal college kid goes through.
It was that faith in God that helped shape him into the type of man he is today.
“My faith is everything. I accepted my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into my life when I was 19 before my sophomore season at Edinboro,” stated Williams. “I know that everything happens for a reason. I have had Godly moments since then that have lead me to where I am now. Without my faith, I wouldn’t be as confident in my dreams and aspiration as I am. Man focuses on the possible, God focuses on the impossible. And that is what my story is all about.”
His final year at Edinboro was a great one - and it helped him get noticed. It’s not easy to get noticed by scouts in the National Football League when you play for Notre Dame. Now try and get noticed when you play for a small Division II school.
You need to be a standout player and person to get an invite to a NFL camp - and that’s what happened to Williams. And it wasn’t just any camp - it was a camp for his hometown Buffalo Bills. Being able to step on the field with some of the best players in the NFL is dream come true
Being able to do it in your hometown while wearing the hometown colors is even more special.
“Seeing the Buffalo Bills logo on my chest and my name on the back of their jersey was amazing. It was a dream come true. Starting from where I was, coming out of high school to being on the biggest stage. Those are the moments that I work so hard for. Everyone wants to be a hometown hero,” stated Williams. “The team I’ve been a fan of my whole life, and the team I said I wanted to play for gave me that opportunity, and I will forever be grateful for that moment. It showed me that I can play in the NFL and play at the highest level and I haven’t even touched the surface with my talents yet.”
Williams didn’t make the Bills’ roster, but he took away what he needed to work on. He knows he can play at that level and he proved it during the mini camp with the Bills. But, he still needed some seasoning.
He could have taken that experience and walked away. Instead he knew what he needed to work on to get his next opportunity.
“From that experience, I was able to bring away a different mindset and a different outlook on the game of football. I learned a lot when I was there that it made me more mature, and how to handle things as a professional,” stated Williams. “It’s not only what you do on the field, but it’s also how you carry yourself off the field. It’s helped me become a better player, and has given me more of a drive to achieve greatness knowing that I can play with the best athletes in the world.”
His next step on the football path would take him in a completely different direction. The Arena Football League gave an expansion franchise to Albany. The Empire were coming into the league, and Williams thought this would be a great opportunity.
This is different football. The field is 50 years long and there are only eight players on each side of the ball. There is no out of bounds, but pads you run into - or get pushed into. It was still football, however. For Williams it gave him an opportunity to hone his skills even more and he tries to make it to the highest level possible.
“I was at a point where I finished Buffalo Bills Rookie Minicamp, played in the Spring League in San Diego, and kept trying to get in contact with agents so I could have someone with connections to get me workouts and try to get my name out there. However, the biggest issue was my film. I didn’t have enough film, and coming from a smaller school teams don’t want to take a chance on a guy who’s hasn’t played against those top Division I athletes,” explained Williams. “I didn’t really know much about the AFL ( Arena Football League), so I started researching teams. The Albany Empire came up on my twitter feed, and it said that they were the new AFL1 team that was being created in Albany. They were holding their first annual tryout a month after I saw that, and I felt like this would be a great time to get more film and to show NFL teams that I can play against any competition. I eventually tried out for them January 27, and was invited the next day to their private workout. I performed at a high level, and it was good enough to get me invited to training camp where I would eventually sign with them and make the 24-man roster.”
Knowing Jordan Williams this isn’ the end of his journey, but the beginning. He has proven people wrong every step of the way so far, and it doesn’t look like he is going to stop now.
As he’s in the tunnel waiting to run out on the field, the emotions come to the forefront. He tries to brush them aside as the smoke fills the stadium. Williams charges out of the tunnel knowing that this is just the beginning and not the end.