This isn't the first time that New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams hasn't been given much of a chance to make a team or get to the next level. But a player overlooked in high school and then college is willing to prove the critics wrong again.
With a secondary that has been hit hard by injuries over the past week, Williams is a player who might be in a position to take advantage of the situation and stake his claim to the two-deep. Given the way he produced last year in his rookie season, there is reason to believe that Williams can factor in again this year for the Jets.
Williams was signed by the Jets midway through last season by former general manager John Idzik. And while Idzik is now a thing of the past, Williams remains and is working his way onto a spot in the two-deep. Signed by the Houston Texans last year as an undrafted free agent, he was cut following rookie minicamp and then signed by the Jets late last September to their practice squad.
He was promoted to the 53-man roster a month later and never let go.
Being under the radar is nothing new for Williams, a player who has never really been appreciated. In high school, he was lightly recruited and ended up at North Dakota State to play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Born and raised in Minnesota, he turned down a walk-on opportunity at Minnesota for a free education at North Dakota State - “I don't go back and wonder. The decision I made to go to North Dakota State was the best for me. No regrets.” Then like on the recruiting circuit, he was overlooked in the NFL Draft despite a solid Pro Day and some very good workouts with teams.
In eight games with the Jets, all he did was register 36 tackles and an interception. But following an offseason where the team signed Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams is being overlooked again. He's an afterthought, not really talked about despite his production in 2014.
But like in high school and again coming out of college, Williams is fully content to work his way to the top.
“I feel comfortable being out there with the guys, the coaches are putting me in spots to see what I can do,” Williams told Metro. “I've got the opportunity to go out there and compete with the vets. Learn from them, get better.
“At the same time I can challenge for a role with this team. It's a good spot to be.”
During training camp, Williams has looked nothing short of being a contributor. He has long arms and doesn't shy away from physical play, perfect for the pressing style head coach Todd Bowles wants from his cornerbacks.
He also has good hips and footwork, meaning that with Dee Milliner going down for the next two months with an injury, Williams will have the chance to battle Dexter McDougle for more reps.
Much of the attention has been on the trio of Revis, Cromartie and Skrine but Williams has been one of the most consistent members of the secondary.
In Bowles, he has a head coach who himself was an undrafted rookie free agent and fought his way onto a roster. Bowles would go on to win a Super Bowl ring as a safety with the Washington Redskins.
“He loves the press. Whatever he asks me to do, whatever he wants from me, I'm going to do it 100 percent,” Williams said. “He makes it clear what he wants from us. I'm more than willing to do it.
“Whatever it takes, whatever he wants me to do so I can help this team win, I'm gonna do it.”