Joshua Williams is on the verge of doing something special. The 6’3, 197 pound Fayetteville, North Carolina native has made himself into a man who has an abundance of opportunities staring him in the face.
For those who don’t know, Williams was one of the standouts on Fayetteville State’s dominant 2021 football squad that was undefeated in conference play until falling to Bowie State in the CIAA championship game.
The physically imposing defensive back has turned many heads this season and could be the first Fayetteville State player drafted to the NFL since 1976. Williams will also be the only division two prospect invited to the Senior Bowl on February 5th, which is a showcase for upperclassmen across the country looking to impress NFL evaluators before the draft. The proud HBCU product is confident that he’ll be able to create an opportunity for himself over these next few months.
“I feel like I can compete with the very best of the best in the world,” said Williams in an exclusive. “Just knowing that they [NFL] are not leaving any stone unturned makes me more confident that somebody would see my talent, recognize it and take a shot. Give me the opportunity to go play with those guys and do what I know I can do. “
Historically Black institutions have produced a plethora of Hall of Famers in the league. From Walter Payton to Shannon Sharpe, the football talent exuding from these universities has been undeniable. Even today, players like Darius Leonard from South Carolina State are still making a huge impact in the league. Williams expects to join all of them in leaving a positive legacy for not only HBCUs but for himself and Fayetteville State as well.
“I want to represent them to the best of my ability. But at the same time I don’t feel any pressure, I know I’m prepared and I know I’ll be you know, as prepared as ever. So, you know, I know if I just go out there and give it my all and I’ll do what I need to do. Everything else would be handled,” said Williams. “I know that everybody is supporting me and a lot of people are rooting for me and I know that I’ll definitely give people from HBCUs and Fayetteville State more light. It’ll give them more recognition for their talent the better I do. If I go out there and do what I know I can do I think it’ll work out well for everybody involved.”
While the world seems to be opening up for Williams now, the road to getting here wasn’t always smooth. Williams’ mother, Angela Autry Williams, who was a Fayetteville State graduate herself passed away from heart complications when he was only six months old. This forced his father, George Williams, to have to raise him as a single parent in the Fayetteville area.
Williams’s father is originally from the Caribbean but became extremely close to Angela’s family in the 910 and decided to raise Josh with the support of the mother’s family in town. Josh used to think of his father as a SuperHero because of all that he did for him growing up.
“When I was young, I used to think he was like Superman, he was in the Army and stuff. He provided for me and my sister, took care of everything, Made sure we were always on our stuff, took us to our sports events, and all of that. So it was very interesting just seeing him and how he operates. I feel like that really made me the man I am today and that’s who I model myself after…him being a Godly man and a hardworking man, “ said Josh. “I couldn’t be more blessed to have him in my life.”
Williams has taken the lessons of his father and allowed them to transform him into a man who is unafraid of chasing his dreams. And now he’s going to inspire thousands of individuals as his name continues to garner interest in NFL circles.
“Since my freshman year … I was telling people, anybody, that would listen that I was going to make it. They might call you crazy or cocky or whatever but I don’t think it was cockiness. It was just me being confident in who I am and what I can do,” said Josh.
He adds, “Not everybody in life gets to do something they’ve always dreamed of doing. A lot of people spend their life looking for their talent or their thing and I feel like this is my thing and I’m blessed to be able to do it at a high level and do something I love and do it at a young age and be in the position to make a living for myself while doing it.”
The NFL prospect said he’s relaxing for the moment but will likely get back to work with coach Brian Frierson who is a linebackers coach at Chowan University soon. Frierson coached Josh in high school and the two have been training together ever since.
The impact that Williams will have on future HBCU athletes especially on the smaller level will be tremendous. There are no more excuses now. If you have the talent the league will find you.
“A lot of good players and even some young prospects now choosing HBCUs. So I think it’s just a trend in the right direction,” said Josh. “It shows people you can go to a college with people that look like you and still set yourself up for a great life after college.”