NFL Draft Diamonds Spotlight Interview: Fred Williams, LB, UNC-Pembroke
How many teams were recruiting you out of high school?
There were a couple of schools that were recruiting me from D1 level down to D2. Wake Forest, Duke, UVA, App State, Elon, Old Dominion, UNC Pembroke to name some. The main school was Virginia Tech, My dream school and the story behind how they started recruiting was pretty cool but ill save it for another time.
How did you come to make your college decision?
My senior year,the week before I was going to commit to VT, I tore my LCL in my homecoming game. So with that knowing that in college and in the pros football is a business, Virginia Tech and other D1 schools pulled away from me. There was only one school that even after I tore my LCL still wanted me, which was UNCP.
Where are you training, and what are your goals for pro day/combines?
Most likely I will be training in Charlotte unless told otherwise at velocity sports performance. For the combines my goal is to be one of the top performers in every category and run a low 4.5. At my pro day I would like to improve upon those numbers and if I need to show them what I can do at a different position I will do that. I’m not afraid to switch position you know, whatever the scouts need to see I will do willingly.
Have any scouts met with you, and if so what are they saying?
Yes, I have met with the Colts, Packers and Raiders. Also a few CFL and indoor pro football scouts; don’t want to say much but just understand it’s a business and god willing if it’s meant to be hopefully I can be a happy man.
At your position, what separates you from the others?
What separates me from others is that I know what it takes to succeed. Others may say they do but truly not many really understand that. Focusing on the little things making sure that every read, every step is perfect is vital especially when you are playing with the best of the best. My determination, commitment and hard work will never be a question because I love the game of football and I love doing what I do.
Tell us what you look for when breaking down film?
When I break down film on opposing teams there are many things that I look for but I don’t think I would have the time to tell you all of them. The main things are personnel, favorite formation, the balance between run and pass, down and distance. Then from there I breakdown the QB, RB, O-Line/ TE, WR from the two deep roster focusing on every little thing that I can pick up movement and scheme wise.
Who was the toughest player you have ever faced?
At UNCP we have a saying “It’s not who you play, It’s how you play.” . So I never really payed close attention to who was really that “guy” for the other team. Tough teams though would be Valdosta State, NewBerry College, and North Alabama. UNC Charlotte is an FCS program that is pretty good also that we played against.
If you could compare your play to one person in the NFL who would it be?
I would have to take it back old school and say LT (Lawrence Taylor). Letting my pads do all the talking is what I’m about. His high energy and motor to chase plays down, willingness and fire to always compete, are all things that I feel I have in me.
What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?
Tearing my bicep tendon from my elbow my 2011- 2012 season. That was a tough one because of the season I had the previous year and all the hype, anticipation that was surrounding me before the season. Tore it in my first game of my senior year and it felt like the world had just came crashing down on my shoulders. The worst feeling that I could ever feel for the simple fact that I was down for the rest of the year and at the time, didn’t know if I would ever play again. Through that time though, I had many conversation with my head coach and position coach which to this day if it was not for them I do not even know if I would have continued football. My coaches played a big part in my turn around and looking at the situation differently. Becoming more mature, more of a man and understanding that in life there will be things that don’t go your way but it’s not how you start it’s how you finish and I must push through it. How you will bounce back from that situation is all on you; Knowing that I was still a leader for my team I couldn’t show a sign of weakness or defeat, that I have players that are looking at the way I handle this. So being around my teammates and coaches having conversations/ talks with them that is the biggest reason I overcame my injury.
What system fits your style of play the best?
Well of course a Base 4-3 since that is what I played at UNCP but I am a smart guy and can learn any other system that will be needed.
What is your biggest strength?
My strength would be the knowledge for the game, I love being a student of the game. Breaking down film, understanding formations, etc is kind of like the “behind the scene” work that people don’t really get to see. The little things are the most important in the game of football and that’s why I try to take advantage of it every chance I get.
What is your biggest weakness?
My weakness would sometimes be my patients in letting some things develop. Since I know where things are going, I sometimes get ahead of myself and get to a cut-off point a little to quick.
If I were a GM and gave you a minute to sell yourself, what would you say?
I will be one of the hardest working guys on the team, someone that is consistent and always striving to get better. Always looking for new ways to improve his game. I am very coachable and will never settle for less because again I understand to be successful it’s the little things that you must focus on. You will also get a player that will be playing with a chip on his shoulder, having something to prove coming from a small school with people his whole life telling him he couldn’t do it.
Growing up, who was your role model?
My father because of the things he went through at a young age having to get a job early in his life to help take care of his family. He taught me how to grow up and mature fast becoming a man. Not depending on anyone else to get things done, to become independent doing things yourself. Both my mother and my father always reminding me to keep god first.
Who was your favorite team and player in the NFL and why?
My favorite team is the Patriots because of the heart and togetherness they play with. No matter the situation they always find a way to get the job done. My favorite player, gosh, I don’t have just one. Ray Lewis, Lawrence Taylor, Mike Singletary, Ray Nitscke, and Von Miller just to name a some.
If you were to have dinner with three people dead or alive who would it be?
I never really thought about it but I can tell you whoever it is I would gain a lot of knowledge from and learn to stay humble and wise.
What would you buy with your first NFL paycheck?
A two bedroom apartment to start off because even though you have money that doesn’t mean go out and blow it all over the place. Then get my mother and father in a decent place to live, paying off my college loans and putting the rest away.