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Keep Your Eye on This (Very) Small School Star

Wendell Williams is a wide receiver for the University of the Cumberlands, which is a Division I school…in the NAIA. Recently, he shocked the world, and earned mentions on both RotoViz Radio and The Numbers Game. Here’s some background.

4.19 40 yard dash!? Williams is certainly fast. But let’s see if the 5 foot 10 inch, 170 pound WR from nowhere has a chance of actually sticking in the NFL.

Regional Combine?

My first reaction to this was “what the heck is a regional combine?” Every year the NFL positions regional combines across the country to give opportunities for players who did not get invited to the official scouting combine a chance to strut their stuff. There are a few caveats to this however. Regional combines are for position players only, and draft hopefuls can only participate if they have no more collegiate eligibility. They also have to APPLY AND PAY to attend. This is obviously a far cry from the official combine, in which players are invited to attend.

The Production

Williams did about as good as one can in 2015, contributing across the board for the Patriots. Here’s a look at his senior season by the numbers.

RecReYdsYPRreTDMSYdMSTD
1545730.580.390.57
ruAttruYDsruYPCruTD
720429.13
PR YdsPRTDPR AvgKR YdsKR TDKR Avg
141123.5777332.4

Cumberlands was a very run-heavy offense, with 548 rush attempts to just 115 pass attempts. Still, Williams contributed in a big way, scoring 15 total TDs, posting dominating market share numbers, and outstanding efficiency. He was also a major special teams contributor. Of course, all of this comes with the caveat that he played at a non-NCAA level of football.

More Than Just Fast

Williams is more than just straight line fast. He’s an outstanding all-around athlete.

Williams was actually a three sport athlete at Herkimer Community College, participating in track and field as well as basketball. Really, “participating” is taking it lightly. Williams won the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes two years in a row at the state championships for junior colleges and was a captain of the basketball team before transferring to Cumberlands. However, this lengthy (and inspiring) road, which included time away from college means Williams will be 25 before he ever sees an NFL snap.1

So How Should We Approach Him?

We have some data points that suggest Williams has a shot to stick in the NFL, but it is also important to not get ahead of ourselves. He still played at a non-NCAA school and had to go to a regional combine to get noticed, whereas we usually prefer our small school players to be combine invitees. That said, he is someone to keep an eye on as the draft approaches, as whether or not – and how highly – he is ultimately selected will say a lot about his NFL prospects.

If he is selected late in the draft or not at all, the road to meaningful fantasy production will get a lot tougher, and we could see Williams as a career special-teamer. However, should he somehow go in the top 100 or so picks there could be some value. For now, he is simply an extreme long-shot worth paying attention to.

  1. In the previously linked article, Williams is noted to be 23 in July of 2014. That means at best, he will be freshly 25 by the summer. He could be many months older.  (back)

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