Cary Williams: A Football Story


Meet Cary Williams. He’s a thirty-year-old from Miami, Fla. He expresses his opinions without hesitation. Oh, and he also happens to be one of the newest members of the Seattle Seahawks. Let’s take a look at how he got to be a member of the Legion of Boom.

High School

Williams played at Chaminade-Madonna College Prep, lettering three times as a receiver and defensive back. He had just one interception his senior year and lacked any notable stats. Williams wasn’t recruited by major college programs, but made one trip to Auburn and talked to smaller Division I-A schools in Florida. He chose New York City’s Fordham, saying the Rams recruited him from the start.

"“It might have been the best decision of my life or the worst decision,” Williams said."

Collegiate Career

Williams played in just six games as a true freshman at Fordham, recording three solo tackles. He appeared in seven games the following year, but only started in one game (Georgetown). He finished with 15 combined tackles, two pass deflections and a fumble recovery. He also returned nine kickoffs for 177 yards, averaging 19.7.

After not seeing eye-to-eye with his position coach, Williams left Fordham. Keita Malloy, a Fordham assistant coach, spent 2001 on the Washburn staff and directed Williams to the Ichabods. Williams redshirted a year to learn Washburn’s system.

"“He came out here sight unseen,” said Washburn head coach Craig Schurig. “He’s matured a lot. He’s got the talent to play in the NFL. He’s got great ball skills. He can be a receiver, but corners are harder to find. He has great length. Our quarterbacks make a certain throw and you think the pass is going to be over his head … and he reaches up and either snatches it out of the air or tips it.”"

In his first season as an Ichabod, Williams started all 11 games at right cornerback, posting 38 tackles and five deflected passes. He also had four interceptions and averaged 20.2 yards on 10 kickoff returns.

As a senior, the All-American selection ranked 10th in the nation with 17 kickoff returns for 487 yards (28.6-yard average) and two touchdowns. Williams ranked sixth in Division II with seven interceptions and fourth with 164 yards gained, including one that he returned for a touchdown. His 56 tackles finished sixth on the team.

Williams set records during his two seasons at Washburn. He ranks second in school history for most interceptions (seven) in a single season. His two touchdown kickoff returns tie the Ichabod season and career records, including a 100-yard kickoff return that tied the school record for longest runback.

It wasn’t until the Kansas Pro Day that the 6-foot-one cornerback was discovered by NFL scouts. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash, had a 32.5-inch vertical jump and near 10-foot broad jump. Prospects projected Williams to be drafted in the seventh round or enter undrafted free agency.

NFL Career

Sure enough, Williams entered the league in 2008 as a seventh round (229th overall) pick in the NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. He became the fifth Ichabod drafted.

His time with Tennessee was a roller coaster. Williams was waived and resigned multiple times. In four games he recorded 12 tackles, posting a season-high 9 tackles and one pass defended against New England. He caught the attention of the Baltimore Ravens, who signed him off the Titans practice squad in December.

Williams’ first game as a Raven came Week 12 at Green Bay. He had 2 solo special teams tackles in a 14-27 loss. Two weeks later, he helped the Ravens defense hold Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to a Ravens’ franchise-record-low 7.9 QBR. Williams also had 2 tackles and a fumble recovery on special teams in the 31-7 victory against the Bears.

The next year, the Ravens had Williams help as both a receiver and cornerback. He had just one pass reception, converting on 4th-and-10 in a 26-10 victory against Miami. As for his defensive game, he had just six tackles.

Williams’ last two years with Baltimore were his best with the team. In the 2011 regular season, he had 78 tackles, two forced fumbles and 18 pass deflections. He acquired 11 combined tackles and two forced fumbles in two post season games against Houston and New England.

The 2012 season brought the Ravens their second Super Bowl appearance and second title. Perhaps the most memorable moment of Williams’ season was the controversial shove between him and a referee. It happened after safety Ed Reed intercepted San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, resulting in a fight between the two teams. Williams wasn’t penalized for his actions.

"“It’s a reaction. You see teammates out there getting hit late, guys pulling guys after the whistle. My helmet came off, I couldn’t barely see, and I just reacted. It is what it is,” Williams said after the game."

But in a better light, Williams’ regular and post season included 94 tackles, six interceptions for 131 yards and 23 deflected passes. It was his best year statistically.

That offseason, the Ravens offered Williams a three-year, $15 million offer. He opted to play under the restricted free agency tender and test the market, resulting in a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles worth $17 million, $10 million guaranteed. Williams left Baltimore as one of two players to start every game in 2011 and 2012.

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Williams remained a starter in Philadelphia and didn’t miss a game in his two seasons with the team. He totaled 111 tackles, five interceptions, and 25 passes defended.

The Eagles released Williams this offseason in an act to save salary cap space. Ironically, the Eagles and Seahawks swapped cornerbacks as Byron Maxwell signed a six-year, $63 million with $25 million guaranteed the first three years with Philadelphia. Williams agreed to a three-year, $18 million deal with $7 million guaranteed all in the first year with Seattle.

When recalling his meeting with the Seahawks, Williams said he liked the team’s honesty.

"“You already know as a player some of the good things you do, but I think the most important thing is trying to get better and understanding what elements can help you get better and reach that level,” Williams said."

Cary Williams OTA Press Conference

Williams is in the mix -Tharold Simon and WillBlackmon are also fighting for the spot – to start opposite Richard Sherman. The twohave been working together this offseason. Sherman spent time atOTAs talking Williams through the details of what coaches expect of theircornerbacks.

"“The way we do it is slightly different than what he’s accustomed to playing,’’ Sherman said. “But he’s catching on quickly and he’s acclimating really well. I think just more repetitions and he’ll be fine.”"

The new Legion of Boom member brings experience to the Seahawks secondary. He is the first cornerback on Seattle’s roster since Marcus Trufant (2012) who will be older than 30. He’s tall and physical, the recipe Pete Carroll & Co. desire. His biggest challenge will be to perfect the Seahawks press-coverage technique, which Williams admits needs work.

Something that won’t be a challenge for the cornerback is hard work. He explained he wants to “come in and work my tail off,” adding he didn’t want to be given anything.

Next: Who is Frank Clark?

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