Syracuse-native Wendall Williams dropped out of two schools, drove a truck, attended another community college and then landed at the University of the Cumberlands before running a hand-timed 4.19 in the 40-yard dash that officially put him on the radar of NFL teams.
For more on Williams and how he reached this point, here's that story.
B.J. Temple coached Williams on the Patriots' track and field team and Williams points to him as one of his mentors. In addition to all of his explosive plays on the football field, Williams won the NAIA national title in the long jump and was also fourth in the country in both the 100 and 200.
A few extra thoughts from Temple below...
On if he saw a chance, a focus in Wendall Williams: "Honestly, when he came in, we obviously knew the story, too. And in the recruiting process, we talked about all the areas we felt needed to be improved like we do with any athlete. He did basketball and track, and now it was we're doing to do track all spring and football obviously in the fall. I'm big on the little things --- let's work on diet, flexibility, core stability, those kinds of things. Knowing that he wasn't training at the level he was capable of, we knew we could find some room for growth here. And some of the selling point was, I went through this before. This wasn't the first time. We had a guy here a couple years ago in Albert Huntley who wasn't as fast but fast. Albert went like 4.39 and 10.2 in the 100 and the Saints signed him. So that was a selling point obviously. Once he got here, it was day to day, 'let's get better.' I didn't see him really progress to work harder when he got here because honestly the day he stepped on our campus he was ready to work and get better. ... From November on to this year, that's when I really saw the growth of 'OK, I'm going to be a professional athlete. What else do I need to do?' And that's when he really started making some changes really in his diet and stuff like that. He came in ready to go, dedicated.
"He takes coaching. He's not afraid to look at himself and say, 'What can I do?' Typical college student, sleeping patterns are terrible and eating habits are terrible. It wasn't that he was any different than every athlete."
On if he was worried at all about his past: "There weren't any red flags. Sure, any time someone transfers to numerous spots, you start wondering, 'What's going on?' And Wendall, just like he is with you guys, he's very honest. He wasn't mature. I didn't call all those schools. I just called Herkimer and talked to their coach. He talked highly of him. And then you read the transcripts of the 3.5 and, honestly, that's a no-brainer that he's ready to go. We are a small town, a conservative town. It's a little different than New York and he knew that coming in. And it was a good fit."
On if Williams could have made a run at the Olympics: "Yeah, he'd have to improve his marks to be able to do that. But he definitely has the ability to make those steps. It takes a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck to get there. If the football thing didn't work out, that'd be great. But football is his love and passion. That's where he needs to be."
On if he can latch onto a team and last in the NFL, knowing him like he does: "I'd like to think so. He's done a great job of setting himself up to maybe he gets drafted. If not, I'm confident he'll get signed as a priority free agent. And then, he just has to prove his skills. I believe in him. I believe he has the athletic ability to do it. I believe he has the right cognitive ability to. He believes it. That's more important. He believes he can do it. Hopefully, a team will pick him up and it's the right fit and will give him an opportunity. Obviously that speed and explosiveness gives him a chance to be successful.