Former Comet football standout Antonio Williams wraps up college career

Published 2:09 pm Friday, December 13, 2019

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A former Stanly football sensation who wore the columbia blue colors while helping North Stanly turn things around will play his final college game this month wearing Carolina blue.

Antonio Williams will play his final college football game at noon Dec. 27 when the Tar Heels take on the Temple Owls in the Military Bowl  in Annapolis, Maryland.

A four-star recruit in high school, Williams finished his career at North in 2015 with 7,999 career rushing yards, placing him sixth all-time in the NCHSAA. The Comets were 26-11 in his final three years with the team including leading North to the school’s first playoff appearance and win in 2014 over Bishop McGuinness.

After two years playing at Ohio State, where he rushed for 318 yards in two seasons, Williams wanted to play closer to his family, which is why he transferred to Carolina.

He rushed for 504 yards his junior season starting seven games at running back. His best performance in 2018 came against Syracuse when Williams rushed for 116 yards and a TD along with 38 receiving yards on six catches, earning him ACC Running Back of the Week honors.

“I’ve been super lucky to play for some amazing coaches,” Williams said of playing for former coaches Urban Meyer with the Buckeyes, along with former Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora and Carolina’s current coach, Mack Brown.

“I felt I just had to continue to lead and do my job in every aspect I can in every job and stay positive for the team, just be the guy for this team,” Williams said.

His work ethic and commitment to the team went noticed by Brown, who in a recent article in The News & Observer called Williams the team’s MVP.

“I highly appreciate that. It’s high praise coming from Coach (Brown) but the biggest thing for me is helping this team,” Williams said.

“He’s done exactly what we have asked him to do and gone beyond that with his work ethic and leadership,” Brown told The Stanly News & Press.

“He’s been tough. He’s practiced really, really hard every play of every day.”

Brown called Williams a great team player, noting he could have acted disappointed when Javonte Williams and Michael Carter got the ball more then he did but Williams never griped one day about it.

“He never had bad body language. He always helped lead in every phase on the sidelines and in practice. I appreciate all he stands for,” Brown said, adding if he had a coaching position open he would hire Williams.

Injuries hampered Williams this season limiting him to 306 yards and one TD. When healthy, he did perform well including 107 yards against Pitt this season.

He credited former North head coach Ralph Jackson, now at Anson County, and current head coach Scott Crisco for helping him to develop a commitment to hard work, even as far back in his time in youth league playing for Jamie Mabry.

“That work ethic has definitely gotten me this far. It’s something Coach Brown noticed. I was trying to lead guys in the weight room, hype guys up,” Williams said

Williams said he enjoyed playing for Carolina seeing his nieces and nephews in the stands at games while still close enough to drive home and visit his mom and dad.

“As you get older, you realize what is important. For me, it’s family support,” Williams said.

The injuries have not been easy to work through, Williams said, but he said he was the type of person to always try to find light in a dark situation.

After considering coming out for the draft in his junior season, he stayed for the team knowing the potential of a strong year with Brown at the helm and freshman QB Sam Howell joining the team.

“I had big hopes coming in this season but the thing I learned most was about myself and who I am as a person. It’s easy to get caught up in the lights. At the end of the day, you just have to help your team and be the leader you can,” Williams said.

Williams said he has everything he has every wanted in front of him right now, with the goal of playing pro football in the future.

Brown believes Williams can play in the NFL saying he could make an impact on special teams as well as be a great pass protector as a running back and a good pass catcher out of the backfield.

Williams said he tried to carry himself well and do the right thing to be a role model for other players from Stanly. He hopes after graduation and a pro career to coach in college and come back to do football camps like other fellow football standouts from Stanly.

“I have the opportunity to come back (to Carolina) and be a coach. Hopefully one day I can be the head coach in this place,” Williams said about his future after playing.

“I think I’ve done solid in my career in college so I’m excited to end it on a high note in this bowl game coming up. My time in college has been a roller coaster but one I would ride again if I could.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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