Bills Show Interest in Former Riverside Star Mike Williams

Posted on April 5, 2010 by Patrick Moran

Wide receiver prospect Mike Williams sent a clear message Monday to the media regarding how he feels about his talent as he readies himself to enter the NFL.

“If I don’t go in the first round, I’m going to be the steal of the draft,” Williams told the media Monday afternoon. “Don’t matter where I go, I’m going to be the steal of the draft.”

The former Riverside high school and Syracuse University star held his personal workout Monday morning at the Thurman Thomas Sports Training Facility.

At least six teams, including the Buffalo Bills were on hand to watch him work out.  Other teams confirmed as being there were the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Williams, who weighed in at 221 pounds (6’1” and a half), ran a 4.53 40-yard dash. He had previously run a 4.51 at the NFL combine in February.  He also had improved shuttle and cone drill times than he had at the combine.

He’s regarded as second round talent by most people I’ve spoken too, but his character has been put through the ringer in recent months because of off-field issues that led to him parting ways with the Syracuse football team during the middle of last season.  He missed their final four games after serving a one week team suspension two weeks prior.

No one can take issue with his production on the field.  Williams had 49 receptions for 746 yards and six touchdowns in only seven games, including monster outings against Northwestern and South Florida when he had 209 and 186 yards to go with a pair of touchdowns in each, respectively.

As a sophomore in 2007 he had 60 catches for 837 yard and 10 touchdowns.

He was suspended for his junior season in 2008 for academic violations.

Tony Truilizio was Williams’ coach when he starred at Riverside. He admits Williams has made some mistakes, a theme he considers far-too-common with a lot of the elite inner city athletes.

“Our kids only need to look in the mirror to see why most don’t make it to the next level,” Truilizio said. “The city has some of the best athletes in Western New York. They need to work on the academics.”

On the field at Riverside Williams was a man amongst boys.  His senior year he had 970 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, ridiculous numbers for a heavily run-oriented Harvard Cup league.

Off it, Truilizio said the realities of life played a part in Williams not reaching his potential in the field of academics.

“A large percentage of these kids struggle just to eat,” he said. “So they hustle to make money. So studying is put on the back burner. Most kids don’t look to the future.”

Williams still went to Syracuse because on the field he was simply better than anyone he lined up against.  Obviously that never translated to the class room.

Truilizio is working hard to change the culture with city kids like Williams.

“Part of what I try and do is help them to believe that football is a form of transportation to get them out of the bad living situations,” he said. “Slowly but surely it works.”

“Mike is an outstanding kid with a lot of wonderful qualities. He’s very gifted and he’s not a thug or a bad person in anyway.  He loves his family and loves his friends and I think he’s going to be a fine NFL player who will keep his nose clean and do the right thing.”

Depending on where Williams goes in the draft, the risk factor is high for an owner to sign off on potentially millions of dollars.  On one hand he’s constantly reminding scouts in physical prowess and ability to Denver’s Brandon Marshall.  On the other he’s also compared to the former Detroit Lions bust from 2005 who ironically shares the same name.

Despite a solid workout that accompanied an equally impressive combine, Williams still has work to do in order to convince a team to draft him remotely close to the range he hopes to be selected in. Last month a source gave Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio a scathing assessment of Williams.

“He is a great talent but a train wreck as a person.” Florio’s source told him in a published report last month. “He was horrible in interviews blaming everyone but himself for his problems at Syracuse…He did catch the ball [at the Scouting Combine] but everything else was poor.”

The Buffalo Bills are very likely to select a wide receiver at some point in the draft and the homegrown kid could be a target.  With Terrell Owens and Josh Reed gone from the team and only unproven Chad Jackson signed so far to replace them, Williams could conceivably get an opportunity to compete for a starting position from the first day of training camp.

When he’ll go is turning into one of the draft’s great mysteries.

Williams knows any team that invests in him will have to determine if he’s mature enough to play at the highest level.  He feels confident that he is.

“I know that my name is a high-profile name right now, so any where I go it’s going to get blown out of proportion,” he said. “I made some mistakes and I gotta learn from my mistakes and make up for them.”

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1 Comment on Bills Show Interest in Former Riverside Star Mike Williams

  1. MattRichWarren

    It’s probably in his best interests if he’s not in Buffalo.

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