Drew Williams went from dreaming of playing for South Carolina to earning a spot as a walk-on to earning a spot as starter.
Then, in the first week of preseason camp, he got even better news.
“We were all in the meeting and they said they wanted to put a couple of guys on scholarship, it happened to be us (Williams and Perry Orth),” Williams said. “We’ve both been working really hard these past couple of years and I couldn’t be more blessed to be a part of this team.”
Williams, a junior who played for Dutch Fork and coach Tom Knotts, went to camps at North Greenville University, Clemson and South Carolina, but he had his eye on one school in particular.
“When they called the next day, they offered me a preferred walk-on spot and I took it right away,” he said.
Though he was a walk-on, Williams made an impact on the team immediately, handling the snapping duties on punts since he arrived on campus. So when special teams coach Joe Robinson saw him finally get a scholarship, it was special.
“I coach a lot of different guys and some are on scholarship and some aren’t, but they’re all Gamecocks and all critical to our success,” Robinson said. “But in Drew’s case, it was a symbol of how hard he has worked for this team and I thought it was great that coach Spurrier saw fit to do that. We’re all very proud of him.”
It was also special for Williams’ parents.
“It was a little emotional because it’s been a long two years and they were really excited. It was a big lift off my shoulders,” Williams said.
This season, Williams will add the short snapping duties for field goals and extra points. It’s something he’s done daily in practice, but not in a game.
“I’m really excited about it. We’ve been working really hard as an operation group with Sean (Kelly) and Elliot (Fry),” Williams said. “We’ve got an operation time that is probably going to be one of the fastest in the SEC.”
Williams also spends part of practices working with the linebackers on his tackling, as he wants to be one of the first down the field to make a play.
Robinson said he likes to have his snappers work with linebackers to learn how to use their hands to get off a block as well as learn how to cover players, skills that linebackers use frequently.
For Williams though, the secret to being excellent at his position lies in the patience and poise in big situations. Robinson has taken notice.
“To see him go out there the past two years as a true freshman and handle the pressure of the conference, I would say he has the right stuff,” Robinson said.
For the born and raised Gamecock, the plan is falling into place.