There will be plenty of talented prospects on hand for Arkansas’ Advanced Football Camp, but perhaps no one more inspirational than Mustang, Okla., senior tight end Blake Williams.
Williams (6-4, 225, 4.58) has not been able to play a single snap in two years after being diagnosed with Dysautonomia at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Dysautonomia – also known as autonomic dysfunction – causes improper blood flow that cause both high and slow heart rate, chest palpitations, chest discomfort, light headedness, gastrointestinal problems, excessive fatigue, nausea, visual disturbances, mood swings, anxiety, vertigo and migraines.
It caused him to miss his sophomore season of football in 2013 and then his entire junior year of school.
“About two years ago my life just came crashing down and it was like I was dead for several months,” Williams said. “ It was like I was in a coma. I couldn’t play sports and I couldn’t even go to school. I really don’t remember a lot.”
After being diagnosed, he would travel to Newport Beach, Calif., for a TVAM/angioplasty performed by Dr. Michael Arata of Synergy Health Concepts.
He has slowly made progress to the point that he recently went through a North Carolina football camp and earned an offer and was also able to compete at Michigan’s satellite camp in Dallas.
“I know full well that I could be spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair or worse, but by God’s grace I have been able to recover to the point that I can live out my dreams again and get out there and compete,” Williams said.
His athleticism and size is such that there have been many schools who have started recruiting himself despite his two years away from the game.
“I have been contacted by Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, VCU, Michigan, Alabama, Arkansas, the University of Central Arkansas, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt and TCU,” Williams said. “It is really a blessing.
“A lot of these schools are saying that just want to get some tape on me, that it is just hard to offer somebody who hasn’t played in two years and doesn’t have any tape.
“But they are all talking about wanting to see my tape early in the season and go from there.”
He’ll also be checking those schools out.
“Because of what has gone on with my health the last two years I haven’t been able to see a lot of football or go a lot of places, but I am very excited about seeing different programs now, “ Williams said.
Williams, a 2016 prospect who has family in Little Rock that are Razorback fans, is excited about visiting Fayetteville and checking out the program.
“Actually my dad was a very good high school player and was being recruited by Coach Lou Holtz when he was at Arkansas before he hurt his neck and wasn’t able to play anymore,” Williams said. “I’m really looking forward to getting over there and checking things out.
“I know they do a lot of great things with their tight ends and got one of the nation’s best (Will Gragg) in last year’s class. It should be fun.”
As one might expect, Williams’ faith has been something that has gotten him through the last few years.
“I am so thankful for God’s grace and understanding and him helping me get through this and now get to do things I love again,” Williams said. “I feel like I am walking witness of his glory and it gives me a chance to share my testimony.”
Photos courtesy of Shelly Holinsworth/Mustang Times