In the final game of the 2015 season, the San Diego Chargers squared off against their AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos. For Denver, the contest was pivotal in determining their seed placement for the playoffs. For San Diego, it was the close out to a losing season in a seemingly meaningless game.
Not so, for Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams.
With 13:09 left in the 4th quarter, the Chargers trailed the Broncos 17-13, Williams would catch the next pass and take it 80 yards untouched for his first career NFL touchdown. Williams had spent a majority of the season on the practice squad and was signed to the active roster late in the year due to injuries at the wide receiver position. While seventeen weeks can seem like a lifetime waiting for your first trip to the end zone, for Williams, the wait was well worth it (video).
“That was an amazing feeling”, Williams said. “Really nothing like scoring a touchdown in the NFL. Very greatful for that chance and all the glory goes to God for that! I really used that as motivation this off season, I knew the stuff I needed to work on to be a better player and I made sure every day I did something to improve on those.”
Williams was a very intriguing prospect when he was signed by the Chargers as an undrafted free- agent last season. At 6’4, 205 pounds, the 24-year old earned his way onto the 53-man roster following a preseason where he recorded 10 receptions for 137 yards and one touchdown. During four weeks of practices and exhibition games, there was plenty of competition for the final 53-man roster last year as Williams was in camp battles with other wide outs Javontee Herndon and Austin Pettis. Even before he was ultimately signed to the practice squad, Williams knew that San Diego was the right fit for him.
“I just really like being in San Diego.” Williams said. “I just felt good from the time I took my pre-draft visit to the first day I reported. The coaches were great, the players and all the front office, equipment guys and trainers, everybody is awesome here. I’m very excited to start this year and make some plays and very thankful for the confidence they all had to bring me in undrafted and I’m just excited to get this year going again!”
Aug 22, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive back Darren Woodard (27) chases San Diego Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams (6) during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Chargers won 22-19. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Last November, Malcolm Floyd described Williams as a younger and fresher “mirror image” of the now retired wideout. Williams recognized the value of learning behind a veteran that came into the league in a similar fashion as he did. Although the opportunity to play alongside the former Chargers alum only lasted one season, Williams knows the experience was paramount for his growth as an NFL wide receiver.
“Malcolm was awesome my rookie year”, he said. “He helped me with so much on the field, how to go about about practice, prepare for games and just how to go about getting through a season off and on the field.”
Now entering his second season in the league, the young wide out is looking to build off of the tutelage of his rookie year. While success is not obtained without challenges, Williams believes that the lessons he learned during his his 2015 campaign will assist him in overcoming obstacles and growing as a player.
“My biggest challenges were figuring out the off season” Williams said. “It’s a lot different than college in how to prepare for the upcoming season. The NFL is such a long season, I don’t want to overdue it with training but I also want to make sure I’m a much better player than I was last year and make sure I am in great shape coming into OTA and to training camp.”
With one year now under his belt, Williams still has plenty to learn, but is no longer considered a rookie. After learning under the wings of “M-80” Williams can now pass his knowledge to the crop of undrafted free agents that followed in the same footsteps as he did last season.
“When their opportunities come, they gotta capitalize on it but never put to much pressure on themselves.” Patience is the hardest but most important advice I would give. It’s tough to not get as many reps as you’d like and you get antsy and want to make plays, but if that’s all your thinking about, when your time does come, you won’t be focused”, said Williams.
Progress is defined as “forward or onward movement toward a destination.” As training camp approaches, Williams’ performance on the field will be based on the progression that he has made from his rookie season. And while the destination for Williams is abundantly clear, perhaps more importantly, he is aware of the obstacles he needs to overcome to get there.
“I have very high goals and expectations for myself always and that’s no different this year, I mostly just want to do whatever I can to help this team get some wins this upcoming season.”