Growing up in Liverpool, England, the only football North Dakota State College of Science offensive tackle Matt Williams (6-7, 290) played was on his television.
“I didn’t know what college football was about in England,” said Williams. The football I knew was Madden on Playstation. It’s getting bigger there with the NFL. My parents started to watch some games [now that I’m playing.]”
Williams’ parents will have the opportunity to watch more football with their son becoming the newest California Golden Bear.
“I was looking for the best fit for me,” said Williams. “I enjoyed [Coach Jeff] Tedford and all the coaches…I felt more comfortable there.”
He took his official visit to Berkeley October 8-10. He chose the Bears over Florida State, Illinois, Kansas, Kansas State, and UCLA despite the Bears losing offensive line coach Steve Marshall to Colorado just hours after an in-home visit with Marshall and Tedford.
“I committed after Coach Marshall left…I met with Marshall and Tedford on Thursday morning…found out later Marshall was leaving…I spoke with Tedford on Friday and liked what he had to say.”
It was that Friday conversation with Tedford when Williams pulled the trigger and verbally committed. He will be mid-year transfer and will sign this month. He will have three years to play two when he arrives January 10-12.
“I felt most comfortable with Cal,” added Williams. “I trust [Tedford]. I trust he will find the right guy to coach the OL…he’s a great coach and he will get the right guy.”
Before he arrives in Berkeley, Williams will spend a few weeks back home England – only his second trip home since moving to North Dakota.
“I saw [my parents] in June,” Williams recalled. “Before that it was year and half. I’m looking forward to spending a few weeks at home with them this Christmas.”
To say his parents have no clue about his football career, would be an understatement. “They really don’t understand what is going,” said Williams. “They don’t understand what college football is all about.”
And why should they. After all, Williams originally came to the United States to play basketball as a 6-foot-6, 195-pound 15-year-old kid.
“My whole plan was to play basketball,” he says. “I played my first year as a sophomore, and played soccer in the fall. But I watched the football team practice. The football coach said I should come out. I decided to play my junior year.”
As a 6-foot-6, 220-pound junior, Williams started his football career as a wide receiver and cornerback. He grew an inch and gained 25 pounds in a year and the coaches moved him to defensive end/tight end, but he did not play one down at offensive line.
Then he met NDSCS offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Mike Shafer. “I could have went to Oklahoma Pandhandle State,” said Williams. “But it was about feeling comfortable. I trusted Coach Shafer; he brought me to North Dakota. He taught me everything I needed to know. He taught me the steps – run and pass blocking. He made me the player that I am today. He is the reason why I can go to Cal.
“I knew it was going to be challenge [to move to offensive line.] My coach in high school said ‘you should try it. You played basketball and you have the quick feet for it.’”
Williams played his first year on the line at 6’7, 275. He’s gained another 15 pounds in the last year, and he plans to work in the offseason to improve.
“I going to work on my overall game, lift hard, do what the coaches tell me, and learn the playbook and different schemes. I just need to get better. I’m going to Cal to work hard every single day in spring ball and it will be up to the coaches if they want me to start or redshirt me. I’ll do whatever is best for the team.”
When he arrives, the bright lights of the Bay Area will be a welcomed sight. And he has one particular place he plans to check out upon arrival. “I grew up in England, in a big city, I’m used to a big city environment,” added Williams. “North Dakota was a big change for me.
“I have some friends that I went to high school with there. They say it’s great…looking forward to seeing more. I didn’t get to see the area and city much on my official visit.
“Alcatraz is someplace I wanted to visit when I was younger. My dad is a huge fan of Alcatraz. He is coming in September to watch some games. He’ll come with me to see it too then.”
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