When Florrisant, Missouri offensive lineman Keith Williams
walked onto the campus at the University of Nebraska
for his official visit, he was looking at many of the same things every official visitor looks at when they arrive:
Facilities, training table, campus, town and community
Not Williams. Sure, that stuff is great and does play some role in his ultimate decision, but what he wanted to learn about was for him the main reason he is now a Husker-to-be. "The academics are what matter to me," Keith said "The football stuff, that just comes with a package like Nebraska, but after I seen their academic support system, I knew that's where I needed to be."
An aspiring architect, Williams saw his future, but football wasn't that have-to-need-to factor, where everything he decided depended on what the sport had to offer rather than the academic side of things.
So, when Keith walked around the various buildings, he saw some awards, trophies and honors, but the ones that he liked probably aren't the ones you think about most of the time. "They had this academic wall of fame and that just tells you how much the academics mean to them," he said. "They mean something to me, as well as the fact that they graduate 93% percent of their football players. Football wont' last forever, but a good education will."
Before you start thinking that this future Husker is a bookworm, albeit a rather large and imposing one, you'd have to understand that there are times when he separates his persona to fit a certain situation.
Like say, when he's on the football field, because Keith knows that just like with jobs out in the real world, the ones in the collegiate and professional world of the NFL, if you want to keep it, you better be willing to go above and beyond. "You have to look at that as a job and if you want to keep it, you better be willing to work your butt of for it. But, once you have it, you have to work even harder to keep someone else from doing the same to you."
"If I get that starting spot (at Nebraska), I'm knocking anyone out I have to, to keep it."
When it comes to facing the opponent, Williams uses a combination of mentalities, knowing that you have to be physical, but you also have to be smart. "The first thing I try to do is outsmart them, because you can't always assume you are going to be physically better than the other guy," he said. "I have played defensive line, so I can recall what I did in certain situations and use that against the guys I have to face."
With the offensive line still being basically rebuilt, there has been a rush to add as many capable bodies to this unit as possible. The coaching staff of the Huskers has also gone the junior college route, trying to get guys they feel strongly about in being able to add something right away.
Williams comes from the high school ranks, but don't let that lull you into thinking that he's willing to redshirt and take his time about getting on the field. From what he's doing right now, you'd see that to be clearly not the case. "I'm working out as hard as I can right now to get stronger, work on my feet and get as fast as I can before I get to Nebraska," Keith said. "I think I have good footwork right now, but it can always be better."
Williams said that he already benches 425, while squatting an even 500 pounds. And he runs in the range of a 5.2/40. What Williams believes is the key, though, isn't necessarily all about being physical. He thinks just having the will to succeed is what you have to go into the situation with. "You play and practice like everyone out there is trying to take what you have," Williams said about getting and maintaining a high spot on the depth chart. You don't talk about it, because that's all that is."
"Nobody likes a talker that can't back his stuff up. I just prefer not to talk at all, because I think what I do on and off the field will say enough about my plans when I get there."
There's no doubting Keith's determination as you can see. There's no doubting his physical potential, the 6 foot, 6 inch, 305 lineman possessing a fame that is already stout, but can be even more.
Keith isn't worried about any of that stuff, because at Nebraska he knows that's the last thing he has to concern himself with. In fact, he's not concerned at all. He's got the tangibles, which he continually tries to improve. He has the intangibles so necessary in being dominant on the field rather than just a player. And he also has the opportunity, the offensive line still very much in flux in regard to who is starting next year.
Now he just needs to get there, something he is excited for, because at Nebraska, he sees opportunities galore. "If I want to succeed in football, Nebraska is a great place to do that," Williams said. "But what I really like is that if I want to succeed as a student, I think they are just as impressive with that as they are with anything they have done on the field."
"I'm going to be part of a great tradition at Nebraska, but that applies off the field just as much as it does on. That place makes you just as much a great student as it does a great player. That's why I am heading to Nebraska."
A lineman walks onto the campus of the University of Nebraska and you would assume that he first thinks about the tradition of the "pipeline" – the name given to the famous offensive lines of Nebraska's past. Keith Williams didn't do that. He didn't look at all the facilities, the tradition, the titles or awards. That wasn't what he was interested in. However, it didn't stop him from leaving the campus only to return, but not as a visitor. Instead, he's the latest member of the class of 2006.