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2017 NFL Draft

Grambling’s Chad Williams after being drafted: ‘It don’t feel real’

Tigers star was the first of four HBCU players drafted by NFL teams

For most young football players, getting to the NFL is a lifelong dream. Some make it, most don’t. For Grambling State wide receiver Chad Williams, the first step came in a phone call from the Arizona Cardinals on Day 2 of this year’s NFL draft.

“It don’t feel real,” Williams told Stephanie Lindsey of the GSU Media Bureau. “Man, I worked so hard that if I had to do it over again I wouldn’t do it over again. That’s how hard I worked.”

Williams is the first Grambling State player taken in the draft since 2006, when defensive end Jason Hatcher was chosen by the Dallas Cowboys in Round 3. Williams was one of four HBCU players drafted last week, including running back Tarik Cohen of North Carolina A&T, defensive tackle Grover Stewart of Albany State and offensive tackle Jylan Ware from Alabama State.

Last season, Williams helped the Tigers win the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl in Atlanta. He was the top receiver in Southwestern Athletic Conference play with 90 catches for 1,337 yards and 11 touchdowns and was also a second-team All-American.

Williams got teams’ attention through workouts with multiple franchises and his performance during Senior Bowl week. Arizona’s staff visited the Grambling campus last week to meet with Williams and members of Grambling’s staff.

“When you looked at the numbers and you looked at the kid and you looked at the other players that were in the draft at his position, second, third round is fitting. He’s the kid that has exceptional ability,” Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs told The News-Star in Monroe, Louisiana.

“The GM wanted to get to know him, wanted to find out about his personality,” Fobbs said. “What a lot of people don’t know is the receivers coach is a personal friend, coach [Daryl] Drake, of myself and my dad, Lee. There is some history there [at Baylor in 1997], and there’s a lot of trust with what we say and between the two parties. His ability level, along with the relationship, really helped the situation.”

Grover Stewart of Albany State was selected in the fifth round with the 143rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts. He is a 6-foot-5, 347-pound defensive tackle from Camilla, Georgia, and was an all-conference performer all four years at the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference school. Last season, Stewart had 37 tackles (26 solos), 12 tackles for a loss of 61 yards and 7.5 sacks for a loss of 52 yards and two pass breakups.

Here is what the Colts had to say about him: “The NFLPA All-Star game invited Stewart, and the big fella felt he more than held his own against Division I-level talent. At 6-5 and 334 pounds, Stewart will easily be one of the Colts’ most physically imposing defensive players from day one. He can play all over the defensive line, with the interior being the more likely home. …. Like fellow fourth-rounder Zach Banner on the offensive line, Stewart is not going to be needed immediately. Defensive line can be grouped in with safety and wide receiver as the most competitive position groups on the roster.”

Jylan Ware of Alabama State was drafted in the seventh round with the 232nd overall selection by the Oakland Raiders. Ware is a 6-foot-8, 295-pound senior who was a three-year starter for the Hornets and was the first Alabama State player drafted in 10 years.

According to scouting reports, he has very good athleticism and could develop quickly because of his agility, and he moves extremely well from side to side. He’s a good pass blocker and has long arms and strong hands but will need to add more size and muscle. At Alabama State, he had the ability to open gaping holes in the running game, along with good strength and quickness.

John X. Miller is the senior HBCU editor for Andscape. He's a father, jazz aficionado and die-hard UNC basketball fan.