Former Wolverine and NFL player Brandon Williams recently took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down with us and answer a few questions.
What are Williams’ thoughts on the Ohio rivalry, or coming from Nebraska, which at the time was a hotbed for NFL talent, to play in Michigan? Find out below!
Q: It must’ve been difficult to watch the team struggle the past few seasons. Talk a little about the job Brady Hoke and company have done to turn this program around.
A: Yeah, these last few years watching us play could be real frustrating. Watching us lose a lot of streaks really hurt. Most of them were streaks I didn’t even know we had but that just shows how much of a winning culture we have. But all the ex-players knew Coach Hoke was perfect for the job. It was funny how the alumni sort of woke up and instantly became even more active around the complex. He was by far one of the best recruiters on our staff and had a hand in more than half of our high profile recruits when he was an assistant.
Q: You’re originally from Nebraska. As we all know, they had a pretty good football team in the late 90’s. What attracted you to Ann Arbor and helped you decide to commit to play in Michigan compared to staying in state? Did Nebraska offer you a scholarship?
A: (Laughs) That definitely was a tough decision coming out of high school. It was the year after Nebraska and Michigan split the National Title so when it became public that it was between those two schools it got really popular. There were a few reasons that helped make my decision but one of the main reasons was no one from my area ever went anywhere besides Nebraska if they had the offer. I always grew up a Nebraska fan but I was more of a College Football fan over anything so I followed all conferences. I always wondered why no one from my area would even test out other schools who obviously had just as much if not more success than Nebraska. I had a lot of Husker RB’s come out of my High School and when I was in middle school. If Ahman Green (former Cornhusker and NFL pro) didn’t leave the state I knew probably no one would. I was a Michigan fan obviously because of the helmets but also they were the only team who I thought was always in the national picture in football and basketball. Of course, I was a HUGE Fab Five fan so they played a role as well. But probably the part that was the deciding factor was on my recruiting visit to Ann Arbor I saw EVERYBODY on the team. It felt like the whole team hung out together on and off the field. It helped that I knew who a lot of the guys were and then to see them just as normal people and asking me questions and joking with me and the coaches, it gave it a real family feel to the team and I knew it was something I wanted to be apart of.
Q: Talk about your favorite memory while at Michigan.
A: There’s too many memories to have just one, but the best memories I have involved my teammates. They helped make my whole college experience what it was. One thing I regret is that I was so homesick my freshman year and probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. As I got older I started to realize this would be the last time in my life that EVERYONE I associated with and who was in my circle would all live in a 10 mile radius from me. It turned out to be an extended family and there are lots of guys who I talk to more than once a week.
Q: As a player growing up, who did you look up to? Did you try to model your game after a specific professional player? Did anyone take you under their wing and mentor you while at Michigan?
A: Growing up, my favorite pro of all-time was Walter Payton. I saw a lot of Bears games on TV so it was almost a no-brainer that I liked his game. I also was a Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders fan. I loved the fact that they played football and baseball (like me at the time) and were dominant at both. Primetime was obviously a person who I admired as a cornerback. It wasn’t a glamour position at the time so it was tough to find clinics or coaches who could really teach the position. I would watch him and how he would play DB to learn moves for my games. I think playing a position not in the limelight made me more of a student and I would pick someones brain (College DBs or coaches) any chance I had. I would watch Nebraska’s secondary and get a lot of mental knowledge about the position. Some of my all time favorite college players were Desmond Howard (because my first little league jersey number was #21) Lawrence Phillips, Napoleon Kaufman, Charles Woodson and Peter Warrick. A cool thing about the NFL is a lot of these guys you watch growing up and in college end up being your teammates or friends and it shows you how we all are just normal guys who have been blessed with a real cool job.
Q: What lessons that you may have learned in college did you bring to the pros? Did you ever expect to make it that far?
A: I learned “Be on time, expect nothing and do something.” It was one of our motto’s that Coach Carr guided us by and it’s something I use in my everyday life today. It’s something that if you follow you will almost always have success. Especially the “Do Something” part. It really makes us realize that things are earned in life and nothing is free. (The motto) Really helped us learn accountability.
Q: Now is your opportunity to provide some bulletin board material or crazy quotes of hatred for either MSU, Ohio, or both. Does the hatred for those schools really run thick? Even when you’re over 10 years removed from college?
A: No need for any fancy quotes. They know we don’t like them and they know they will never be us. It’s funny how they think these last few years make up for our lifelong dominance. Hell yeah the hatred is real! STILL!
Q: I understand you do a lot of charity work. What is the name of your charity, what does it focus on and what can others do to donate?
A: Right now I work with the DREAM Organization. It’s a nonprofit set up by my cousin Steve Warren, an ex Husker and Green Bay Packer, and we have multiple mentor and after school programs in local middle schools. We work with groups of students, mostly the athletes, about different parts of your life that they don’t teach you in school. Its good because a lot of the kids don’t have positive male figures in their lives and you can tell this time is cherished by the kids and the staff. You can find the info on the web at www.dreamomaha.org . We also have a youth sports academy that we use as a platform to help high school athletes earn a college education. That’s my favorite thing because it gives me a chance to get my coaching fix in as well as helping youth steer some of the roadblocks I ran into during my career.
Q: It is time for some shameless advertising, plug any projects (like your radio show, and webcast) that you’re currently working on!
A: I recently started testing out my skills in broadcasting. Me and former Wolverine Cato June have a podcast called “The Players Lounge” and you can find it on www.bottomlinesportsshow.com . Also I’m doing a Thursday night draft show on www.fantasysidelineshow.com . Fantasy sideline show is one of the top podcasts in the country and are a few more facebook and iTunes subscribtions away from signing their first Sirius Radio deal.
Also I’m doing a few correspondant things with School of the Legends. It’s a NFLPA backed social site for us the players (current and former) to interact directly with fans. Not through another person or team ran site but the actual player himself. We have to use our NFLPA member ID to log on so you know it’s legit. You can also see different players offseason workout routine. www.SOTL.com . It’s a site that’s ahead of the times as far as connecting a major sport with its fans in a fun and safe way.
Q: Let’s get to know the real Brandon Williams. What do you like to do in your spare time? Who is your favorite artist? Favorite video games? Do you have any “special talents” that only your closest friends may know about?
A: I’m real low key. Im usually in house with my family. I’m blessed with a wife that likes sports so we’re always hosting parties for friends and family. Besides that I’m trying to expand my camp portfolio. I have two planned in Michigan this spring. We’ve partnered with several recruiting services to help with exposure for our athletes. (Laughs) I’m always looking for new areas to come and set up a camp that will help the youth reach their goals for college and life.
Q: Anything else you want to add?
A: The best life decision I ever made was joining the University of Michigan family. GO BLUE!!