The seventh College Football All-Star Challenge, a skills competition featuring some of the biggest names in the game, was the event that Troy Williamson turned on its head. He wasn't originally on the invite list and replaced Maurice Clarett the day before the event was scheduled when Clarett opted out.
He simply came away with the victory, completing an obstacle course, which included foot agility drills and a gauntlet among others, a full 1.5 seconds ahead of his competition.
Williamson also won the rapid fire pass-route running drill, which consisted of five different routes that each skill player had to run. He caught all five passes thrown from Saints QB Aaron Brooks and once again finished ahead of the other skill position players.
"It was a great experience altogether," said Williamson. "When I was out there, it was the competitive edge that came out of me. I wanted to be a competitor and do what I had to do. I had a good time hanging out with all the other football players who were there. It was a very good experience altogether."
Williamson went from a man without a face to a popular man in the span of seconds. He went to Mobile, not to participate in the Senior Bowl, as he left South Carolina as a junior, but to continue to get his name out and make himself seen.
Coming from a run-oriented offense, Williamson thought it was important to mingle with NFL coaches and scouts before he headed to the combines.
Leaving town as the Fun N' Gun entered with the addition of new head coach Steve Spurrier would seem to be career suicide, but Williamson believes he made the right choice in leaving early.
"One thing I thought about was ‘I got to do what I got to do,'" Williamson said. "This is my opportunity, and I don't want to pass a good opportunity up. I could come back next year and not get the time on the field I thought I would get. Or something could happen, I could get hurt. I just thought that right now was the best opportunity that I had, and decided to lead with it."
After leading the Gamecocks in receptions and yardage as a sophomore, Williamson led the SEC in yards per reception as a junior. He followed that up by running a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
Williamson accounted for 38 percent of the passing offense in 2004 and over half of the touchdowns thrown went his way.
Known for his big-play ability, and little else, Williamson is trying to shed the moniker and prove he is an all-around receiver.
"I feel that my hands are another good thing for me," said Williamson. "Right now, I'm working a lot on my route-running and stuff like that. What people say that I'm weak at, those are the things that I'm working on, the kind of stuff that can make people see that I can do more than just run by somebody.
"I can catch the ball, I can run routes, and do all the other stuff that people said I couldn't do. That's one of the main things: I love proving people wrong. I've been doing it all my life. I want to show everybody that I am the person that people say that I am, not the person that people say that I'm not."
Williamson added eight pounds to his frame between the start of the offseason and the combine. He would like to add a couple of more pounds to take the beating that goes with being a receiver in the NFL.
Whether it is going over the middle to take a hit or beating press coverage, the speedster is trying to round out his game.
"That's another thing that I'm working on," Williamson says when asked about press coverage. "When the opportunity comes for me to beat press coverage, I'll be ready for it."
Along with increased press coverage comes the 5-yard rule. In the NFL, members of the secondary can't rub a receiver out of the play beyond 5 yards.
When talking about the rule, Williamson's eyes light up. He may be trying to shed his one-trick pony status but knows who the 5-yard rule benefits.
"My game is speed," Williamson admits. "The 5-yard rule is wonderful. You can't touch me after 5 yards. All I have to do is beat you in those 5 yards and I have the opportunity to run by you."
He has already met with many of the teams in the league, but counts Washington, Atlanta, Dallas and the Chargers as the teams showing him the most interest.
Whatever team secures this weapon won't just be getting a guy with speed; they will be getting an all-around receiver that was overlooked because of his South Carolina roots where they ran a run-oriented offense.
NFL prospect more than just speed
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