NFL Draft

CB Joshua Williams Looking To Put Fayetteville State On NFL Map

Only three HBCU Fayetteville State alums have ever played in the NFL. And you have to go way back to find the first, and so far only, one to be drafted, Blenda Gay in 1973 and that was technically the supplemental draft, not the regular, common one.

Cornerback Joshua Williams is poised to break all those droughts this year. The first player from Fayetteville State to ever be invited to the Senior Bowl, he’s repping his uniform with pride.

“It feels great,” Williams said of being the first from his school. “A lot of these guys out here, they went to huge schools. There’s one other HBCU here. So just being one of those two guys, it is really special. I’m sure these guys are proud to represent their school, but I feel like having the only Fayetteville State Bronco helmet to ever be out here is definitely a special feeling, especially being from Fayetteville.”

Williams is from the area, attending Jack Britt High School eleven miles from where he wound up playing his college ball. He’s an impressively tall, long but not lean corner at 193 pounds with the frame to pack on a little extra weight.

He’s fairly new to the NFL radar, in part because he’s relatively new to the position. A receiver in high school, he made the switch to corner his senior year there, defending passes instead if catching them. It’s an adjustment five years in the making but a spot Williams is now comfortable in.

“Biggest thing mainly was just understanding how the defense works. That I have help, that just because you’re lined up in front of a guy doesn’t mean, that’s your guy the whole time. I had to understand how zone coverage works, switching off, things like that.That was completely new to me. I always played offense. Never really had to understand defenses really to that level.”

But Williams quickly caught on, breaking up 11 passes in 2019. Like so many small schools, COVID wiped out his 2020 season but he returned to form in 2021, breaking up nine passes in nine games while intercepting three passes, including a pick-six against Elizabeth City.

The NFL took notice with teams, including the Steelers, sending scouts to his fall practices. And Williams got the call to the Senior Bowl at his team’s year-end banquet.

“At the end of the season, we had some banquet. At the banquet, they kind of surprised me with the cameras. All of the staff came out and it was a nice event.”

Williams is showing he earned the invite to play on such a big stage. He’s big, long, but fluid, able to turn and run or plant, drive, and get downhill. With competition concerns, he isn’t likely to be a top pick in this draft but he’s played his way into a draftable grade.

“My versatility, size, strength, athleticism. My aggressiveness, tenacity. Just my willingness to play and my love for the game.”

Williams is poised to represent his school and all HBCUs in the pro game later this summer.

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