Kevin Williams has no regrets. He knew there would be some criticism when he made the decision to transfer from Nebraska to Michigan State for his final season, but he had his reasons.
And those reasons were stronger than any criticism he may have received.
“My family was going through a lot,” Williams said. “My grandfather had just passed and I had another set of grandparents who had never seen me play that live in Michigan. They got to come to my first game and that was awesome.
“I value family over everything and that’s something I would have never gotten back.”
The defensive tackle has been back in Nebraska training for the NFL draft with Speedway Village, who specializes in sports performance and taking athletes to the next level. On the Friday morning of the NFL draft, Williams walked into Speedway Village’s massive complex just after 10 a.m. He was followed shortly by former teammate Daniel Davie.
While it poured outside, Williams got to work. He stretched, ran through a variety of strength and conditioning drills and finished up with skill position work. By the end, he sat on the end of a bench press and reflected on what the weekend might mean for him.
“It’s huge because I’ve been working my whole life for this,” Williams said. “I’ve dreamed about it since I was a kid and it’s finally here.”
The trainers at Speedway Village know what an NFL team would get from Williams. He’s a hard worker who is willing to put in the extra time and effort to get better. They have no doubt if a team were to take a chance on him, Williams would impress.
When Williams hears that praise, he is quick to explain why he’s like that.
“I really pride myself on working hard, coming in and putting in the work that’s necessary,” Williams said. “I’m a big believer that you get what you put into it.”
He’s also a big fan of the underdog. He knows players that were undrafted that went on to be great. That’s why he pushes himself so hard. He knows what’s out there for him.
Williams also credits both Nebraska and Michigan State for where he is in life and for his outlook on hard work.
“It taught me a lot about being a man,” Williams said. “Both experiences were great. I spent five and a half years [in Lincoln], met the love of my life – my fiancé – so I have nothing but great things to take from here and my experiences. They’ve done a lot to mold me into the man I am today.”
Williams speaks fondly of both Nebraska and Michigan State too. Both taught him valuable lessons and brought him great relationships. Nebraska, however, is just a little sweeter. It’s where Williams’ met his fiancé, who he proposed to on July 3, 2016.
Williams was training in Houston, Texas, but came back to Lincoln after the Spartans’ pro day to be with her. She will graduate from Nebraska next week and then the adventure will really begin. The couple is open to whatever the future may bring, whether that be the NFL or not.
Williams’ has thought about that too. He’s ready if the NFL doesn’t work out.
“I’d go to work in construction,” Williams said. “I have a great opportunity with a company around here – Kiewit. I have a good opportunity with them if the NFL doesn’t work out. They said they’re willing to work with the whole NFL thing. If it works out, great. If it doesn’t, then I’ll get to work and they’d love to have me.”
There is a clear maturity to Williams. His education means a lot to him and he wants other young athletes to feel the same.
“You don’t want to get in a situation where something happens out of your control, like injuries,” Williams said. “Everybody comes into college wanting to go into the NFL, but the reality is that things happen that are within your control and out of your control. You have to plan and take advantage of the opportunities that have been given to you.”
And that’s what Williams has done. Whether people knew the full story or not behind his transfer, he has spent his collegiate career and the months that followed chasing the opportunities he’s been given. It hasn’t always been an easy path, but Williams feels he is a better man and stronger person as a result of the adversity he faced.
He now just hopes a team sees that in him too and makes the call.
“I’m just praying I get an opportunity,” Williams said. “That’s all I ask for.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.