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Carolina Panthers

ECU's Williams Still Chasing His Dream


It's not often that someone makes the cut as a walk-on for two different major college football programs.

Think that's rare? Well, how about that player rising up to become an NFL Draft pick?

That's what North Carolina native Bryce Williams has put himself in position to do.

Williams, a tight end projected to be a Day Three draft pick (rounds 5-7) enjoyed a standout prep career as a tight end at North Davidson High School, about an hour northeast of Bank of America Stadium. He wanted to play in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but only one school showed notable interest in him.

"Marshall was my only Division One offer," Williams said, "and that was just as a preferred walk-on."

Williams accepted the opportunity and earned a spot on the team but was redshirted. He wasn't confident that a chance to see much playing time for the Thundering Herd would ever materialize, so he decided to transfer with a little help from his twin brother, Shawn, a kicker at East Carolina at the time.

"Without him, I probably wouldn't have been there," Williams said.

Williams did end up there – again, as a walk-on.

"That's something not too many people have gone through," Williams said. "I had to have a chip on my shoulder to prove myself, to show that I was worthy of a scholarship.

"I'm grateful for ECU recognizing that and that I was eventually able to earn one."

As a walk-on, Williams was eligible to play in 2012 without sitting out a year, but he didn't see game action that year. That changed in 2013, when, even though he started just one game, Williams earned All-Conference USA honorable mention after catching 20 passes for 220 yards and five touchdowns. He put up similar numbers in 2014 to earn second-team honors, then truly came into his own last season, earning first-team recognition after piling up 58 catches for 588 yards and four scores.

Now it's time for Williams to make another adjustment. He comes equipped with valuable versatility, having played a fullback/tight end type of role at times in college, but he must now adjust to pro-style offenses after being in a spread offense at ECU.

But Williams, who counts multi-talented Panthers tight end Greg Olsen among his favorite NFL tight ends, certainly knows a thing or two about successfully dealing with change.

"I consider myself a very tough player," he said.

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