No, that’s not the team’s winning percentage over the past two seasons (28.125 percent). It’s the numbers of players that were on Seattle’s roster in Week 17 last season that remain with the team. While there are many new faces at the team’s Renton, Wash. facilities, there’s one that’s being counted on to turn heads in 2010.
Coming out of college, Mike Williams appeared to be a surefire big-time pro wide receiver. In his two years at Southern Cal, the 6-foot-5 Williams hauled in 176 balls for 2,579 yards and a jaw-dropping 30 touchdowns.
Feeling like he had had enough of picking apart the Pacific-10 Conference on a weekly basis, he grabbed a hold of Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett’s coattails as the two sued the National Football League in attempts to buck the its rule stating that all players eligible for entry into the league must be three years removed from high school. After an arduous legal process, the two failed to get into the league after their sophomore years in college.
The news came as a severe blow to Williams. Already having signed an agent, the First Team All-Pac-10 selection wasn’t eligible to return to the collegiate playing field. It would be 15 months until he’d be able to call a team’s field home once again.
In 2005, the Detroit Lions spent their first-round pick, which was the 10th selection overall, in the NFL Draft on him.
In his first season in the league, Williams had his most success. Playing in 14 games and starting four, Detroit’s new big-play threat showcased his skills with a season-long 49-yard reception. That season, he caught 29 passes, 350 yards and a touchdown. That season also was the last time he’d play more than eight games.
The following year, his focus waivered, his weight ballooned and his production dropped markedly. He saw time in eight contests and recorded just eight catches.
Following his second year as a Lion, Detroit had had enough. On April 28, 2007, the team shipped Williams and quarterback Josh McCown to the Oakland Raiders for a fourth-round pick in the 2007 Draft, though, it wasn’t long until Oakland, too, didn’t want Williams’ services.
After six games of wearing a silver and black Oakland uniform and bringing in a paltry seven catches, the Raiders released the former star wide receiver.
Nearly a month later, Williams resurfaced, this time, with the Tennessee Titans. He’d enter two games off the bench, but failed to catch a pass as his weight once again became an issue. While with Tennessee, Williams would eventually weigh in at 270 pounds.
It would be two years until Williams’ name would become relevant again.
Having realized he still had the desire to play the game, but also realizing he needed guidance in order to return to the playing field, Williams went back to the place where he became a national name. Talking with his college coach, Pete Carroll, Williams got his much-needed pep talk.
Rededicating himself to his passion for football, Williams shed the extra weight that hampered him previously and got within five pounds of his collegiate playing weight.
After his former coach left USC in January to head the reclamation project called the Seattle Seahawks, Carroll realized he wasn’t happy with what he had on his new roster. Through the offseason, training camp and preseason, the team would make over 100 roster moves, with one being the signing of a 6-foot-5, 235-pound unrestricted free agent that was originally pegged as a surefire big-time pro talent coming out of college.
Since joining the Seahawks April 16, Williams has continually made people double-take.
‘Wasn’t he the youngster that couldn’t even hack it with the Lions?’
‘Yeah and the Raiders.’
‘Man, he was 270 pounds with Tennessee!”
‘Now look at him! Wait, did he just make that catch?’
Initially buried on the depth chart, Williams has climbed the ladder. During the preseason, he worked his way into the first-team offense and showed he could hold his own against a starting defense.
Against the Green Bay Packers, Williams recorded Seattle’s first catch of the game – a 17-yarder near the right sideline that stemmed from a perfectly executed button-hook route that helped the receiver find space among three defenders. Later in the game, he’d again be on the receiving end of a 17-yard Matt Hasselbeck completion. This time, Williams made a diving grab along the left sideline while concentrating on holding onto the ball and keeping his body in bounds.
His efforts throughout the offseason and preseason were enough not only to earn him a spot on the team’s regular season 53-man roster, but a spot in the starting lineup. Saturday, Seattle cut veteran T.J. Houshmandzadeh just one year after the team gave the flanker a five-year contract. Houshmandzadeh’s departure was made possible thanks to Williams and his college and now pro coach’s belief that the Seahawks have found a diamond in the rough.
Can’t get enough NFLGridironGab? Follow SeahawksGab Editor Devon Heinen on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DevonHeinen.