From college football reserve to making the Super Bowl roster, not exactly the common path for football players. But that's the story of former TCU defensive back Malcolm Williams.
The 5-11 rookie from Grand Prairie, Texas was surprisingly drafted last April by the New England Patriots in the seventh round. Then again, that's what a 42-inch vertical, a 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash and bench pressing 225 pounds, 16 times can do for a defensive back.
"I'm living in a dream right now," Williams told TCU360.com last May. "It's the best thing that can happen to me."
And there's more to that already impressive story.
After a standout senior season at South Grand Prairie High, Williams committed to play at Oklahoma, but failed to qualify. His college football dream then took him to Trinity Valley Community College. After two years playing in Athens, Texas, Williams signed with TCU.
And while he understood he would probably never start on defense because of a loaded depth chart, Williams found ways to get noticed on special teams, leading the unit with 12 tackles during his senior season.
But his big break came on March 10 at the TCU Pro Day. With NFL scouts on hand to watch Horned Frogs quarterback Andy Dalton, Williams turned in the outstanding measurables that were mentioned earlier.
That was enough to catch the eye of the Patriots' scouting department. Williams wasn't sure he would get drafted so he attended minor league tryouts and another for the Canadian Football League, which were paid for with his wife's income tax return money, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Fortunately for Williams, he wouldn't need to worry about the CFL. While keeping up with the final day of the 2011 NFL Draft last April, he received a phone call from Bill Belichick. The Patriots coach informed Williams that he was chosen with the 219th pick.
"The Patriots did a great job of researching everything they could about him," TCU coach Gary Patterson told The Morning News. "Yes, it's rare when a college backup gets drafted, but they saw the potential."
Williams' time as a rookie has gone about as smoothly as his path to the NFL. He's been released and re-signed on four different occasions, injured his knee and hamstring along the way and nearly took a job at Walmart five weeks ago to support his wife and two daughters.
On Christmas Eve, Williams was asked to re-sign with the practice squad. About a week later, he was added to the active 53-man roster.
The 24-year-old has played in all three games since, meaning it's likely that a reserve defensive back in college could be playing on the game's grandest stage instead of stocking shelves or working a register.
"Malcolm is a great story for all young guys," his agent, Jordan Woy, told The Morning News. "He's an example if you continue to work hard enough, there may be shot."
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