For an exclusive interview with Tyrell Williams’ head coach at Western Oregon, click here.
The moments after the draft are complete chaos, with 32 teams competing for the signatures of hundreds of undrafted free agents. One of San Diego’s prized signees this year was Western Oregon wide receiver Tyrell Williams. The Chargers successfully convinced him to come to San Diego and follow the footsteps of Malcom Floyd, a former undrafted free agent who is preparing for his 12th season with the team.
While the agreement with Williams did not come until after the draft, it was a pre-draft dinner with receivers coach Fred Graves that helped seal the deal for the Chargers.
Said Williams of Graves: “Just the way he said he does everyday drills, just going through footwork stuff and catching stuff every single day. [He] puts a big emphasis on that and making sure you stay catching the ball and kicking your feet and stuff. I really like that, making sure we’re always doing something new every single day.”
In fact, Williams was impressed with his entire visit with the Chargers. It was a major reason he decided to turn down offers from the Rams and Panthers and pursue his professional career in America’s Finest City.
“I liked [the Chargers] a lot and the facility was really nice,” Williams recalled. “It kind of pushed them over the edge to the one I wanted to start with.”
It is easy to see why the interest is mutual. Williams is a 6’3″, 204 lb. receiver with 4.42 speed. He comes off an impressive senior season in which he caught 56 passes for 950 yards and eight touchdowns, but the feeling is his best football is still ahead of him.
When Williams first arrived at Western Oregon, he weighed only 160 lbs. He was also completely naive about the receiver position and what it takes to be successful there.
“When I first came into college I didn’t block at all,” he admitted. “I started seeing I could get my starting spot taken away, so I started taking a lot of pride in blocking. I feel like if you don’t block you’re not going to be able to be on field cause you’ve got to have an impact on every single play whether it’s a pass or run.”
It’s good the rookie is focused on the little things, as those little things will make or break his pursuit of a roster spot.
In addition to blocking and running disciplined routes, Williams will have to stand out on special teams if he hopes to earn a place in San Diego.
“I played special teams my first two years in college and then the coaching staff cut me back on it my last two years, but I definitely am open to doing anything on special teams at the next level,” he said. “I’m completely fine and excited to be on special teams and do anything I can with returning kicks, blocking for the returners or making tackles.”
Williams is making the most of every rep during OTAs and plans to do the same at mini camp later this month. The goals is to be as prepared as possible when training camp rolls around so he can let his natural talents shine through.
“I think it’ll probably be a shock for the first couple of days, but I feel like I’ll be able to adjust to it pretty quick,” he said. “The speed will start to feel normal after a little bit so I think it’ll be challenging for the first couple of days.”
There is no one particular aspect of his game that Williams is focusing on between now and the start of camp. As an undrafted player from a Div. II school, he is still trying to improve at “pretty much everything.”
His goals for his rookie campaign and basic and realistic: make the team and get onto the field. The key to making those goals a reality? Keeping his nose to the grindstone.
“Just go there every single day and work hard. Good things will come from that,” he said. “I’m just trying to make an impact on every single play I can. Just catching every day and running basic routes every day and working on my blocking every day. [I’m] still trying to stay tuned up on everything.”
Another thing that has Williams fired up is the opportunity to play with Philip Rivers. Like all Chargers fans, Williams was relieved when draft passed by without San Diego shipping off its prized quarterback.
Rivers is a dynamic leader and a passionate student of the game, traits that will bring out the best in Williams.
“I’m pretty excited to work with one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” Williams said. “It’s pretty crazy, especially coming out of college, getting to play with one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. It’ll be unbelievable. I’m feeling pretty confident in myself.”
Could that confidence result in Williams becoming the next Malcom Floyd? It’s far too early to make that comparison, but the talent and drive are undoubtedly there.
What kind of impact can Tyrell Williams make in San Diego? Join the discussion in our message boards!
Brie Stimson has freelanced for a variety of publications for the last several years, with a recent focus on sports journalism. Although she’s not a native of San Diego, the city has quickly become her home. Follow her on Twitter: @BrieStimson