Williams: 'A Dream Come True'

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Kendric Williams arrived at the first team meeting of the 2007 season as a walk-on 17 days ago. He left that meeting with a scholarship, a culmination of his hard work and dedication for the North Carolina football program the past three years.

"It was really important," Williams said. "It almost brought a tear to my eye. I didn't want to cry in front of my teammates, but it's something I've been working for since my freshman year – well, since high school I've been trying to get a scholarship. It's a dream come true, basically."

But Williams is not about to pat himself on the back and be content. The Charlotte, N.C. native has steadily moved up the depth chart and now secured a spot with the first-string defense at cornerback.

"He is a kid that has really sacrificed a great deal in the program," Butch Davis said. "He's been an excellent special teams player, [and] he's worked himself into a starting role at corner."

The senior, better known as ‘T-37' for his special teams heroics in practice, believes the new coaching staff combined with his continued improvement in the offseason has put him in the projected starter's spot.

"It's 50-50, probably," Williams said. "I knew I had to put in the hard work and keep working. Also, [defensive coordinator/defensive backs] coach [Chuck] Pagano – I have to thank him for giving me a shot and for giving me a chance to play. I talked to him and he said ‘walk-on [or] scholarship, it doesn't matter – we're going to put the best people on the field.' And I really admire a coach that would do that."

The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder worked diligently this spring to improve his technique.

"I tried to work on my footwork, and I tried to make sure I had good reads – reading the quarterbacks and reading the receivers' routes," Williams said. "Then in the summer I worked on my strength and conditioning, worked on my speed [and] worked on my change of direction, so there's a lot of things that go into that."

While Williams joins junior Trimane Goddard as the elder statesmen of the secondary, it should be noted that ‘T-37' has never played a down on the defensive side of the ball – all of his live game experience took place last season on special teams.

Despite the likelihood that Pagano will start three players in the defensive backfield that have no experience in the season opener against James Madison next Saturday, Williams believes the group will excel.

"I think we're doing a great job," Williams said. "We're learning to work together [and] we're learning to communicate better. Coach [Pagano] has really stressed the communication, so if the offense does something that we need to fix, then the secondary's always ready to communicate."

Williams was invited to walk on at North Carolina prior to his freshman season in 2004, but was relegated to the scout team during his first two years as a Tar Heel. However, due to his lack of an athletic scholarship, the senior was not able to tab one of those seasons as a red-shirt year. Now, with a full scholarship in hand, Williams is working with the coaching staff to apply for an extra year of eligibility.

"There could be [a fifth year] – we'll see what happens with that," Williams said. "I'm trying to go through the process right now, but we'll see what happens with that."

Through it all, Williams has always looked at his situation in a positive light – regardless of what happens on the playing field, he will be able to earn a degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"It's a great school," Williams said. "I took a few visits up here, and the academics are great and it has a great football program, so I figured if I was going to walk on, then I was going to walk on to the best school in North Carolina. I knew I was going to be able to play Division I – I knew I had the skills. Other coaches probably didn't know at the time, but I had faith in myself and faith in my abilities."

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