Draft snub fueling Williams’ drive to the NFL

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In a story nobody thought he’d be writing, Ian Williams reflected on getting passed up in last weekend’s NFL Draft.

Williams, who some had pegged as a second rounder early in the year, expected to go somewhere between the third and fifth round of the draft. Instead, he’s weighing his options back in South Bend, as NFL rookie free agency is closed because of the lockout.

One emotion that’s been weighing on Williams? The embarrassment of having family and friends gathered to celebrate his selection, a party that never happened:

From Williams, in yesterday’s South Bend Tribune:

I spent last weekend at home in the Orlando area, waiting for my name to be called in the NFL Draft, which didn’t happen.

It was tough. It was more embarrassing than anything. When people ask or when people Google my name or something like that, you’ll see projections of third to fifth round.

Late in the draft, teams did call, but not for the reasons I hoped they would. It was kind of like false hope. You’re sitting around for hours waiting for the phone call…

I happened to have a few family and friends who were at my house with me Friday and Saturday. And again not seeing my name called, it was very embarrassing.

After the draft ended, I didn’t even want to talk to anybody. I snuck out the window, got in my car and just drove off for a little bit, because I needed to clear my head.

The hard part is I’ve tried to do everything right for the past eight years: Graduate from high school, not have any troubles in high school, graduate from college, not have any off-the-field issues, play all four years, go to the combine, go to the Senior Bowl, do good at both, have a good Pro Day. I tried to do everything right.

Why it’s embarrassing is because I look beyond myself. I talk to a lot of kids, including a kid who’s a sophomore or junior at one of the high schools back home.

He was like, ‘Did you get drafted?’ And I told him that I didn’t. And he didn’t text me back for a while, and it kind of made me feel bad. That’s the embarrassing part — I was supposed to be this example for this kid and I’ve done everything right and I still don’t get my name called. It really hit home.

There’s no doubt that Williams getting injured halfway through the season was a huge blow to his draft prospects, even though he did rebound to play in the Sun Bowl and the Senior Bowl. You could also argue his development at Notre Dame — playing as a true freshman, bouncing between both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, and being really the only true nose tackle on the roster — hurt him just as badly.

But for every Ryan Simms, a top-ten pick that’s now resurfacing in the UFL Draft, there’s a John Randle, who went undrafted out of tiny Texas A&I on his way to the Hall of Fame. And while Williams’ virtues still didn’t get him noticed by NFL teams (it’s always sad when a guy that does it right — no arrests, graduating in four years, a good person), those virtues are the ones that will help him stick on an NFL roster.

The draft process with Williams, which has been wonderfully chronicled by the South Bend Tribune, has been illuminating — with Williams reflecting on Michael Floyd, the future of the Irish, and just about everything else. No doubt, these articles likely fueled some of the embarrassment, each one of these diary entries assuming that he’d be selected at least somewhere.

If there’s a silver lining in the process, Williams gets an additional few weeks to merely let football sit off to the side for a while, when he’ll reap the fruits of his labors at Notre Dame, with graduation slated for later this month.