As he talks through the process, Kendall Williams stops for a second to laugh. That’s how crazy the last few days have been leading to the big decision he has just made.
Here he was, in Iowa, so far from Las Vegas, where he had been training recently, and so far from California, where he played JUCO ball as a running back at Butte College. In a three-day span, Williams had gone from looking for a college to getting on a plane to finding a home.
“God works in some crazy ways,” Williams said Saturday evening. “They were looking for a running back and I was still looking for a school. I needed a school, so it just matched up perfectly.”
Williams, a 6-foot, 215-pound running back, had drawn interest from Iowa State back in the spring of 2014 when quarterbacks coach Todd Sturdy stopped in California and sat down with him. He ultimately committed to Arizona that July.
Before Williams’ sophomore season — after he had rushed for 1,156 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman — he broke his right hip in Butte’s second scrimmage. He missed the entire season. Eventually, for unspecified reasons, things didn’t work out with Arizona and Williams began looking elsewhere.
Then, on Thursday, Sturdy followed him on Twitter. Iowa State recently dismissed running back Martinez Syria from the team and also had an open scholarship. Williams called Sturdy, he sent in his transcripts and things began to take off.
“We’re trying to get you down here,” Sturdy told him. “If I call you tomorrow and I say you have a flight tomorrow at 5 p.m. you’re going to be ready, right?”
“Yeah, coach,” Williams said, “I’m going to be ready.”
As Williams packed his belongings in Las Vegas, ready to head back to California on Friday, he received a call. He now had a flight to Ames in a few hours.
Williams arrived in Ames at 10:45 p.m. Friday, and less than 24 hours later he sat in coach Paul Rhoads’ office committing to Iowa State on Saturday evening. As Williams talked with running backs coach Louis Ayeni, his decision was cemented.
“He’s just really genuine, really loyal, really truthful about everything,” Williams said of Ayeni. “He kept it real with me. He didn’t sugarcoat anything. He let me know, ‘Look, this is going to be the best spot for you. I’m going to work you.’ That’s another reason why I committed.”
The journey to this point has been long, but Williams has found a home. He’s expected to arrive August 4, in time for fall camp and in time to give the Cyclones much-needed depth and experience in the backfield.
The decision is about school and football and little else.
“I’m the type of person, facilities and all that stuff is good, players want to have all that stuff, but I’ve been out of football for a minute,” Williams said. “My main focus right now is getting on the field and practicing with my brothers. I’m not too hyped about facilities and all that. I’m just here to play football.”
The right hip fracture sustained prior to the 2014 regular season cost Williams his second collegiate season. He will arrive at Iowa State with two years to play two, but is currently attempting to get a third season of eligibility back. The injury took several months to recover from, but Williams feels he has regained strength.
“I’m trying to make sure my team wins by any means whether that’s catching the ball, running the ball, returning kicks [or] laying out linebackers to protect the quarterback,” Williams said. “That’s what I feel the position is made for, not just to run the ball and get hard yards. There’s more to it, that’s what I feel. I work on every aspect of the game. I want to be the best at what I do.”
What will fans see? Well, as Williams has found out, anything can happen.
“I’m exciting,” he says excitedly. “Anytime I touch the ball, anything could happen. I may go all the way anytime.”