Despite walking the same path with different shoes, two former Section 3 football stars are guiding their NFL teams toward their ultimate goal: the Super Bowl. While Onondaga running back Latavius Murray & the Oakland Raiders clinched a playoff spot yesterday with a 19-16 win over the Chargers, Bishop Ludden wide receiver Wendall Williams & the Houston Texans are tied for the division in the AFC South at a record of 8-6 with just two games remaining. However, Williams’ path alone has been quite the story this season.
After making a name for himself at the NFL regional combine in Minnesota where he posted an unofficial 4.19 forty yard dash, Williams was signed as a undrafted free agent by the Houston Texans on May 6th. Despite making a strong showing in training camp among teammates Deandre Hopkins, Will Fuller V, Braxton Miller, and Jaelen Strong, Houston elected to cut Williams for the final roster spot on September 3rd. The New York Jets, who were highly interested in Wendall after the combine, signed him to their practice squad on September 12th, only to release him 2 weeks later. However, Williams remained positive and continued his daily workouts. Suddenly on November 9th, he found himself back in familiar territory on the practice squad with the team that gave him the first shot at his dream, the Houston Texans. The Texans receiving corps had been bothered by injuries and Williams seemed like the perfect fit as he was already familiar with the offensive scheme of Bill O’Brien.
On December 13th, Wendall Williams was promoted to the active roster. His dream was finally a reality but he knew he had to stay focused because this opportunity could slip away at any moment. A division showdown with the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 18th was his first shot of action. With the Texans trailing 13-5 in the 3rd quarter, Bill O’Brien turned to backup QB Tom Savage to replace the struggling Brock Osweiler. Savage’s 1st completion was a 32 yard post route to #82 Wendall Williams! Williams finished the game with 2 catches for 34 yards and Houston rallied for a 21-20 win.
The Texans square off with the Bengals next week before heading on the road to Tennessee January 1 2017 for a game that should decide the AFC South. What a way to kick off the new year! Who knows, we might even see Murray vs Williams in the playoffs if the Raiders-Texans square off.