Yuma, Arizona – April 27, 2013 — Arizona Western College is proud to announce that former AWC defensive tackle Jesse Williams was selected late this morning in the third and final day of the 2013 National Football League Draft. Williams was the fourth pick of the 5th round by the Seattle Seahawks, and the 137th pick overall. Williams becomes the second Matador alum to be drafted by an NFL team in as many years, and both he and last year’s draftee, former Matador linebacker Korey Toomer, were selected by the Seahawks in the identical round.
Williams has been a star member of the defense of the University of Alabama ever since he graduated from AWC back in the spring of 2011, and has been one of the main cogs in the defense that brought Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide back-to-back national titles in 2011 & 2012. He first drew international attention when he became one of the few Australian natives to be offered a football scholarship in the United States, signing with the Matadors in the summer of 2009. The native of Brisbane took the WSFL by storm as a freshman, starting all 11 Matador games in 2009, recording 3 sacks and forcing 3 fumbles. His 46 overall tackles and 34 assisted tackles were tops among Matador D-lineman, and he earned 1st Team All-Region I and 2nd Team All-WSFL honors that year. Williams became one of the top junior college prospects as soon as he walked off the field for AWC at the 2009 Mississippi Bowl. However, much of his sophomore season at AWC was derailed by a nagging knee injury that he endured from preseason drills through the season. He only played in 7 games for the Matadors in 2010, but gutted it out to still rack up 30 overall tackles (8 solo), 6 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, a fumble recovery, and nearly returned his lone interception of the season for a touchdown. Despite playing just over half the season, he was given the ultimate respect by the WSFL’s coaches, who still named him a 2nd Team All-WSFL postseason selection after his sophomore campaign.
With all of that said, the Tide remained extremely interested, and Williams was bound for ‘Bama as soon as he took his visit over Labor Day Weekend of 2011 to Tuscaloosa. As a junior, Williams started all 13 games for the Tide as a defensive end, rolling up 24 tackles-four of them for loss. For his senior season this past fall, to not only fortify their defensive line but also improve Williams’ versatility going forward, Saban shifted Williams back to the position that Matador fans became accustomed to seeing Williams play: nose tackle. Once again, Williams was a force in the middle for 13 Alabama games, making 37 total tackles, with a pair of sacks and 2 ½ tackles for loss overall. The Aussie native also showed something to Tide fans this past season that Matador fans weren’t shocked about at all, since the man who actually earned WSFL Special Teams Player of the Week during his sophomore season at AWC blocked a kick on special teams in 2012.
Now that Williams is on the precipice of becoming the Matadors’ best chance to have a longtime NFL player in decades, his former coach shows no surprise. “I’m surprised he fell as low as the 5th round-considering many thought he’d go late in the 1st round or early in the 2nd round,” said AWC Head Football Coach Tom Minnick. “It’s great for Jesse to get this chance, and going up there to play for (Seahawks’ Head Coach) Pete Carroll, I think he has a good chance to play. We wish him the best of luck.”