Tramon WIlliams...Thanksful for oppurtunities


Feb 25, 2007
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How could one of the nation’s most productive college cornerbacks go undrafted?

How could a talented kid fly to another city every Monday night, work out for a new set of coaches every Tuesday morning and return to his Ruston, La., apartment every Tuesday night, jobless?

Those are the questions that confused and frustrated Tramon Williams as one NFL team after another looked at him and then overlooked him last fall.

The Houston Texans signed him as an undrafted free agent, but he was released at the end of training camp. The Green Bay Packers worked him out shortly after but didn’t offer a contract.

So, Williams flew to Atlanta. To Chicago. To Jacksonville a few times. Pittsburgh. Carolina. Philadelphia. A couple other places he can’t remember.

Everybody said he had talent. Everybody said there was no place for him.

His job search was nearing three months when, in late November, Williams decided the stress had to go.

Be patient, he told himself. Tackle the rest of your life head-on.

That’s when he got the call. Williams was at his mother’s house when the Packers told him they planned to sign him to the practice squad the following week.

It was Thanksgiving Day.

“I always had to work hard for everything I got. It ain’t nothing new to me,” Williams said in the locker room this week, days after he scored his first NFL touchdown on a 94-yard punt return in the Packers’ 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers.

“If people don’t see me as a great player or this and that, I don’t worry about what other people think. I have confidence in myself, and I know I can get the job done when it’s all said and done. It’s just the type of person I am. Somebody comes in and beats me two times in a row, well, I’m going to come back and get him two times in a row.”

That’s the competitive spirit Williams developed in Napoleonville, La., competing with his older brother, Ted, and playing football from age 5. Cornerback was his favorite position.

He never was the biggest player on the field. Standing 5-foot-11, Williams weighed only 155 pounds when he earned second-team all-state honors as a senior at Napoleonville’s Assumption High School in 2001.

Despite his remarkable athleticism — the only year he ran varsity track, Williams placed at the state meet in the long jump (second), triple jump (second) and high jump (third) — Williams didn’t get any interest from college football coaches outside the state.

“Even though I was a smaller guy, everyone always kind of looked up to me,” Williams said. “It’s kind of a situation like, everybody else realize you doing good, but the people who should really don’t see it, you feel like they don’t see it. That’s kind of the way my life felt like it was going.”

Louisiana Tech offered a scholarship, but Williams turned it down and enrolled there as a regular student. He attended one football game as a fan before deciding he needed to get back on the field.

In four years, Williams went from walk-on to scholarship player to first-team all-Western Athletic Conference cornerback. As a senior in 2005, he led the nation with 19 passes defended, including three interceptions.

But the cycle began again after Williams ran the 40-yard dash in an uninspiring 4.58 seconds at his campus workout. He’d heard NFL teams projected him as a third- or fourth-round draft pick, but his name wasn’t called. Then came the brief stay in Houston, the weekly flights into and out of unfamiliar cities, the mounting rejection that made him think about putting to use his bachelor’s degree in sociology.

“After a while, it can get frustrating,” said Williams, 24. “But I just realized that there’s nothing I can do about it. Just wait.”

His opportunities have come quickly since his surprise debut on the Packers’ 53-man roster at the end of training camp in September. Williams leads the team with a 23-yard average on kick returns, has been discussed as a replacement for veteran punt returner Charles Woodson and also plays on coverage units.

Packers coaches believe he has a future on defense, too. His size — listed at 182 pounds, he’s the Packers lightest player — notwithstanding, Williams is a physical player, whose ability to jump off either foot and play the football makes him a good fit for bump-and-run coverage. He’s taken over as the fourth cornerback in the dime package, so he stands to see the most significant action on defense of his short career today against the pass-happy Detroit Lions.

“He has a great feel and understanding of the game,” said Lionel Washington, the Packers’ defensive nickel package/cornerbacks coach whose father, like Williams’ father, grew up in Napoleonville.

“I think he’s real conscientious of understanding what you’re saying, what you want from him, what you expect of him. He’s just waiting for his time. Whenever that time comes, I think he’s going to be — I know he’s going to be ready.”

Things are falling into place for Williams off the field as well. He bought a truck to get around in Northeastern Wisconsin winters but is saving his money carefully. Some of it might go to a ring for his girlfriend of more than three years, Shantrell Moore, the 2006-07 WAC basketball player of the year and an aspiring WNBA player.

He also is working toward a ring of his own with the Packers, who at 9-1 are among the favorites to earn the NFC’s Super Bowl bid.

By the time Williams returned to the locker room after Sunday’s win, he had about 100 missed calls and text messages on his cell phone from friends and family who’d seen his touchdown return. The calls haven’t stopped since.

“The opportunities (the Packers) have given me, I feel I’m taking advantage of,” Williams said. “That’s all I can ask for — opportunities. That’s my M.O. If you give me opportunities, I take advantage of it.”

The summer after his freshman year of college, Williams would leave the dock of the plant where his father was the supervisor and head to his second job, at a supermarket. The next summer, after he learned he would receive a scholarship, Williams worked on a contracting job renovating a building at LSU.

Whenever his playing career ends, Williams wants to work with kids or coach — basically, anything in sports. He’s considering returning to school to finish a second bachelor’s degree, in computer information systems, in case he wants to go into business.

How could someone who apparently can do so many things and works so hard have slipped through the cracks so many times in his short career?

“Sometimes, in working a kid out, you don’t see everything that you want to see,” Washington said. “When you get in competitive situations, then a lot of times that comes out, the exact thing you were looking for. You see a guy is going to compete, how he’s going to react to certain situations as far as routes and just letting the defense know things, and (Williams) has responded well.

“He’s a great kid, he’s a hard worker, and that’s all you can ask for — a kid to just come in and work hard, do all the necessary things to get better. If anything happens to our starters, I wouldn’t feel bad at all about putting him in there. I would not worry. I would not worry.”

I hope he gets another tomorrow

Jun 6, 2005
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Toronto, Canada
I like T. Williams as a prospect at CB, he impressed me in his limited action against the Eagles.

He also has versatility, backing up at S as well as CB.

Seems sort of like last years Jarret Bush, a player with promise that is making a name for himself on ST.

If he can make the same leap as Bush from year 1 to year 2 with the Packers, it'll be real beneficial to the Packers.


Aug 13, 2006
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Greg C. said:
That's a good article. Tramon showed some real flashes in the preseason, so I was glad when they hung onto him. He's done a decent job returning kickoffs, and if you want to see something funny, he leads the league in punt returns with a nifty average of 47.0:

Man, they don't even have a picture of him. They have a picture of the #2 guy - James Thrash, but none of Tramon. Come on, SI. Get with it.

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