The Packers selected Corey Williams in the NFL draft because of his hustle, athleticism and versatility, but what they probably didn't know about was his anxiousness to get on the field.
It didn't take long for Williams to show that desire to play, either. On July 31st, Williams was so eager to practice that he reported to Clarke Hinkle Field in full uniform and all ready to go, but there was one problem -- he was missing a contract.
Yes, you read it correctly. While many players make sure to sign their contract before they do much of anything, Williams wanted to participate so badly that he forgot all about it. He eventually made it back to team headquarters to put his name on the dotted line before returning to practice and he's been going full throttle ever since.
According to Williams, the time he would have missed was more important than the contract he was about to sign.
"I was ready to go," Williams said. "I wanted to get on the field and compete. I wanted to get to practice as soon as possible because I didn't want to be so far behind that it would take me a while to catch up. At the time, I wasn't thinking about a contract, I just wanted to get out there and get started."
The Packers were also happy that their 6-4, 310-pound defensive tackle/end was roaring to go. Because the team regularly rotates eight defensive linemen each game and the demand for good players at that position is always high, the addition of Williams was an important one.
The sixth-round pick out of Arkansas State has been better than his draft status might suggest, too. In fact, Williams probably had just as good a training camp as any other rookie on the team and now he finds himself in the defensive rotation. That's pretty impressive for a player who didn't even hear his name called on draft day.
"I went fishing that day," Williams explained. "I just though if I get that call, I get that call. I was praying and hoping that I would get drafted, but if I didn't, as long as I could sign as a free-agent and get that chance, I knew I would show what I could do."
It turns out that Williams didn't need to worry about going undrafted. Where he would end up was a different story, however.
"I was very surprised when the Packers picked me in the draft," Williams said. "When I first got drafted here, I didn't even know where the Packers were located. If I would have had 10 choices to decide where Green Bay was, I never would have guessed Wisconsin."
Williams said that didn't mean he wasn't happy to be a Packer.
"I was looking forward to it," Williams explained. "It was something different, getting away from home and meeting new people so I was looking forward to that. Also, I was gathering all my winter clothes because when it gets cold, they say it gets really, really cold."
Well, he will no doubt learn more about Wisconsin winters very soon, but when he arrived, Williams had more on his mind. When asked if he ever worried about his status with the team, Williams didn't hesitate to answer.
"Yeah, I did that everyday," Williams said. "In this league you can't put yourself up to be the top dog because there's always someone else out there that plays just hard as you do. I just try to take it one day at a time, get out there in practice, work hard and just try to be coachable."
It's safe to say that Williams has learned what it takes to play in the NFL and it hasn't been lost on the coaches. They have seen enough in him to activate him for all six games to this point, but Williams doesn't let that get to his head.
"I'm excited to get out there and get a chance to get reps and help my team out," Williams said. "But I look at it like this: Whether I am playing or not, as long as we win, that's all I care about. That's the attitude I'm taking. I'm going to be behind my team 100 percent whether I'm on the field or off the field."
It's no wonder Williams has this quiet confidence about him and why he seems so level headed. When you consider what the 24-year old has been through in his short life, football may seem like a piece of cake.
In February, just as Williams was preparing for the NFL Combine workouts in Indianapolis, tragedy struck. His daughter, Shakia, who was born prematurely, passed away about two weeks after birth and Williams didn't know how to handle it. He was without both of his parents, who also had passed away already, and it seemed as if the hard times were becoming all too frequent for Williams.
Eventually, he decided that playing football would help him get through the difficult times.
"Football was more like my escape because I had so much anger built up inside," Williams explained. "I felt like football would be the only way I could release some of that anger without getting in trouble. I just wanted to play hard and knock people around and stuff like that.
"When my parents died, it was more of a motivator for me. It made me want to strive harder because they always said they wanted me to make something out of myself. Since I was a little kid I always said I wanted to play NFL football. I thought about how if my parents were here they would tell me to go for it. I said forget it, I'm going to go and give it everything I've got and hopefully everything will turn out well."
Now, Williams' hard work and ability to battle through adversity is paying off.
"The best part about all of this is coming to work, playing in the NFL, and playing with some great players on the team," Williams explained.
"It's been pretty fun. It's real exciting being on the field with all the big time players."
It sounds as if Williams still has that anxiousness to get on the field. Only this time he has the contract and the clearance to do so.