On the field, Connor Williams is a dominant left tackle for the Texas Longhorns — the sophomore is already looking like a first-round NFL Draft choice as the most solid piece of the ‘Horns offensive line.
Off the field is much of the same. He transferred into the prestigious McCombs school of business this year with a 3.65 GPA.
But Williams’ backstory is much less glamorous than you’d expect of an elite student-athlete.
In fact, according to a piece from TexasSports.com, he couldn’t even make it onto the field in grade school:
Williams also remembers walking the track during recess because nobody would have him on their football team. While his name now floats around in conversations about a different kind of draft — that of the National Football League — back then he was obese and bullied relentlessly. "I think most of the time I ate lunch in the library by myself because they kicked me out of the table because I was so fat," Williams said. "Friday and Saturday nights, nobody wanted to hang out with me. I always just hung out with my family. They've always been there for me, so those are the people I turn to."
Some time in middle school, things slowly began to change. Williams’ older brother, Dalton, played quarterback for Stephen F. Austin and Akron. The younger Williams decided it was time to embark on his own athletic career.
Accompanied by his dad and beyond tired of the bullying, Williams started P90X, along with regular running and trips to the local YMCA.
He also joined the football team at Coppell High.
Williams became a good player, but as late as his junior year he recalls watching teammate Solomon Thomas commit to Stanford, and how nobody believed he’d get a similar opportunity.
That changed too, when Williams switched to left tackle as a senior. Williams earned a three-star rating and big-time offers began pouring in. Stanford did come calling, along with Ohio State and more than two dozen other schools.
A conversation with ‘Horns head coach Charlie Strong led to the final decision:
He said once he talked with head coach Charlie Strong and the rest of the coaching staff on their home turf, he knew Texas was where he belonged. "Just driving away, we were by that Whataburger on I-35 and I just looked at my mom and I was like, 'This is the place I want to go to,'" Williams said. "[My family] never pressured me on any school to go to. They smiled because they went on all my trips with me and they felt it also." Williams said he chose Texas for its opportunities to progress as a student and an athlete. From the beginning, he had his heart set on transferring into the McCombs School of Business, for which he would need to maintain a 3.5 GPA. And so, with little room for error, he chose to forego his spring semester in high school and enroll early.
Williams took off from there, starting all 12 games last season and earning freshman All-America honors.
This season has gone pretty well, too.
Texas LT Connor Williams' pass block efficiency of 99.3 ranks third in the NCAA. He's allowed just two pressures on 225 pass block snaps. pic.twitter.com/HaMy6mGD1u— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 24, 2016
Now, despite his quiet nature, Williams is working to become a more vocal leader, again with encouragement from coach Strong.
He’s focused on this season, on school and on his still-close relationship with family. That said, don’t be surprised if you hear Williams’ name among the first 10 taken in the NFL Draft a few years from now.
It’s a far cry from the overweight kid circling the track at recess.
"It helps to know I'm doing something right, but then again, I try to block out all the noise because I need to stay humble," Williams said. "I'm here because I was hungry in high school and elementary school and middle school, because of how I went through life. I just need to keep that mentality."