The Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie cornerback Joshua Williams — the team’s fourth-round selection from Division II school Fayetteville State in the 2022 NFL Draft — was among the players speaking to the reporters from training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri on Sunday.
Williams has an enhanced appreciation for the opportunity before him. While small-school players have always faced an uphill climb to the NFL, Division II colleges did not even have a 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Williams found himself, at least temporarily, having to build a life outside of football.
“We had my sophomore season — it was pretty good,” he recalled. “Then, unfortunately, COVID struck. Basically, that whole year was kind of up in the air if we were going to have a season or a spring season. Of course, I was preparing as if we were going to have a season. I was hopeful — just working out. I did have a part-time job, but that was about it. Working out, doing my schoolwork, going to work — and unfortunately, we didn’t end up having a season.”
Williams later revealed that his part-time work included delivering pizza for Domino’s and working as a security guard at Walmart.
He spoke about managing his own training between the end of June’s mandatory minicamp and reporting for training camp at Missouri Western State University on Friday.
“The main thing was probably just getting into my playbook, of course,” Williams explained, “because going from college to an NFL playbook is very different. So making sure I understand my assignments, alignments, techniques, all of that. Of course, getting in shape to come out here and get all of these reps. So a lot of it was pretty cut and dried — not too much to think about.”
Williams recognizes the heavy adjustment he faces jumping from Fayetteville State to the NFL. He credited help he has received from coaches — and from a very famous new teammate.
“It’s been great,” he confirmed. “The coaches we have, they always push you along. They’re always telling you how to adjust quicker. So it’s not really getting thrown in a fire. They’re telling you what they expect, how to do certain things, how to prepare. So it’s definitely not super-smooth, but it’s something that’s doable if you prepare yourself.
“It’s a very different thing coming from a small school and meeting Patrick Mahomes — somebody who has reached the heights of this league. And for him to be as humble as he is? There [are] a lot of guys [who are] always helping you, pushing you along, keeping you motivated. He’s one of those dudes. Great person — and he is what he is: a great player.”
In Sunday’s practice, Williams was noted for competitive red-zone reps against tight end Jody Fortson — another former Division II player who is in camp early as he recovers from an Achilles tear last season. Williams appeared to confirm Fortson’s recovery is on track — and that the tight end got the better of Sunday’s matchup.
“Man, that’s a long dude,” Williams said of his new teammate. “He’s good. He’s a great player. Hopefully, we can keep getting some reps — and next time, I’m going to get him on that.”