New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams spent his childhood playing football for the YMCA in North Minneapolis at Fairview Park before embarking on an outstanding prep career at Hopkins High School and three FSC National championships as a three-time All-American at North Dakota State University.
Last Saturday Williams was on his old stomping grounds hosting the second annual Marcus Williams Football Camps. More than 200 children ages 8-12 signed up.
Williams, who will be entering his fourth NFL season, developed the camp to give the kids an experience that will help them later in life. “The camp is about more than football,” Williams said.
Indeed it is! This year’s participants were required to attend one of three “Lesson for Life Workshops” to learn leadership concepts before participating in the one-day camp.
“The leadership component is just as important as the football aspect of it,” said Williams’ father Jeff Williams, who was at the camp helping out and providing support. “Beside skills, we also want them to learn about hard work.”
The elder Williams, who starred at quarterback for Minneapolis North and St. Cloud State University during the mid-1980s, saw first-hand what hard work and perseverance can do watching his son’s NFL journey.
Despite an outstanding high school career, Marcus Williams received little interest from the Division 1 power conferences, eventually landing at NDSU, a smaller Division 1 powerhouse. Though he finished his collegiate career as one of the school’s most celebrated players, the younger Williams went undrafted in 2014.
After being released by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent that year, he signed with the Jets’ practice squad. The rest, as they say, is history.
“It’s important for our youth to understanding that it is okay to follow your dreams like I followed mine,” Marcus Williams said with emphasis. “But it is not about me,” he continued. It’s about the young people in our community. It’s about giving back.”
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.