Green Bay Packers' cornerback Tramon Williams has never been one to be in the spotlight, but that might be changing very soon for the fourth year cornerback.
Williams is having a breakout season for the Packers, and the NFL is finally beginning to take notice. For the 27-year old Williams, however, being overlooked has been a common theme throughout his football career.
A Rocky Beginning
Williams began his football journey at Assumption High School in Napoleonville, Louisiana. He helped lead Assumption to four straight district titles, and was named second team All-State his senior year, but it was his teammate that was getting all the attention.
While Jacobs was getting offers from powerhouse schools all over the country, Williams didn't receive one. In fact, Williams couldn't even get an offer from several of the D-1AA schools in Louisiana.
"We tried to sell him to some small colleges and they just wouldn't bite," Williams' high school coach Don Torres told Madison.com. "He's one of the type of guys that just does what he's got to do. He doesn't stand out."
When there wasn't any football offer that Williams took a liking to, he decided to enroll at Louisiana Tech in hopes of obtaining an electrical degree.
But just when he thought his short football career was over, football somehow found it's way back into Williams' life. While attending a football game during the fall of his freshman year, the itch to play football came back. So much so that Williams successfully tried out for the team the very next spring.
Williams was on the scout team as a freshman, saw limited action as a sophomore, then fully entrenched himself at starting cornerback for his junior and senior season.
As a starter, Williams recorded an NCAA-leading 32 pass defenses in 19 games, and also intercepted seven passes. His senior year he was rewarded with First Team ALL-WAC honors.
But graduation brought his promising collegiate career came to an end, and after obtaining two degrees from LT, Williams again saw his football future in jeopardy.
Out to Prove Himself Again
The 2006 NFL draft came and went, and the name "Tramon Williams" wasn't heard. He briefly signed a post-draft practice squad deal with the Houston Texans, but after he was cut, Williams was out of football again.
He didn't lose faith, however, and on November 29th of that year, the Packers came calling and signed Williams to their practice squad. It was another diamond in the rough find for Green Bay.
"His skill set is so high," Packers' cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. "It's amazing that he slipped through the cracks."
He stayed on the Packers' practice squad for the remainder of the 2006 season, but with a solid preseason the following year, Williams was awarded a roster spot in 2007.
And he made the most of it in any way he could. Williams played in all 16 games, intercepting a pass but making his mark on special teams as both a returner and solid tackler.
He's been a full-time contributor for the Packers ever since, yet even with seasons of five (2008) and four (2009) interceptions, Williams had been off the radar for anyone outside Green Bay.
Not for long.
Starting to Get Noticed
There's no hiding for Williams now, as his solid play this season has officially blown his cover. No offense to reigning Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson, but Williams has turned himself into the Packers' best cover corner.
Green Bay has been comfortable putting Williams on the opponents' best receiver, and he has delivered week after week for the Packers' defense.
His most recent examples: shutting down Santonio Holmes (three receptions, 43 yards) and Randy Moss (three, 30).
"There's nobody in the league that he doesn't think he can cover," Whitt said. "He really has developed into a guy that (says), 'Hey, you give me a guy, I can cover him.' Now, is he going to shut everybody down? No. There's nobody in the league that will. But hey, I'll take my chances with Tramon on anybody."
The rest of the NFL is starting to take notice of that fact too.
Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post said, "Charles Woodson might get all the accolades, but fellow cornerback Tramon Williams looked like the perennial All-Pro in the Packers’ secondary yesterday."
Sports Illustrated writer Don Banks went a step farther declaring, "In a game that featured both New York's Darrelle Revis and Green Bay's Charles Woodson, the best cornerback on the field Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J., was the Packers' Tramon Williams."
And Whitt thinks Williams still has a lot to offer.
"He's not close to his ceiling," Whitt said. "He will get better because that's the type of guy he is. He was a walk-on out of college, a free agent. He's worked for everything he's gotten and hasn't been given anything. That's the soul of the man, that's what he is going to continue to do, and that's why I am so happy for the young man."
He's clearly in the national spotlight, and with three interceptions already, his ceiling this season might just be a trip to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
Will He Be Rewarded?
A recent Yahoo! Sports article stated that the Packers have begun contract negotiations with Williams, and you have to believe that's a smart idea from Packers GM Ted Thompson. 27-year old cover corners don't just grow on trees in the NFL.
Yet even with a one year deal with the Packers, contract talks haven't slowed Williams.
"It's not about contract things, it's about me coming in and playing," Williams said. "I know I have a job to do, I'm a part of this team, this team is my family. I'm not worrying about that type of stuff."
The dollar number that Yahoo! reported was above the salary of former starting cornerback Al Harris, somewhere in the five to six million dollar a year range. If he does in fact get that kind of deal, Williams has earned every penny—starting way back in Napeolenville, LA.
Even Packers' coach Mike McCarthy understands what Williams has been through to get to where he is.
"Tramon is a little bit of your poster child for us. He is a young man that came here, was given an opportunity, and he has just worked from the first day he arrived and continues to do so. He is a tremendous professional," McCarthy said. "He is very detailed in his preparation, and he is playing at a very, very high level right now."
Let's hope Thompson and the Packers' organization rewards Williams for what he's accomplished in a Packers' uniform. Because as Williams has proven throughout his football career, if the Packers don't recognize his talent, he'll surely find a place where they do.