ARLINGTON, Texas — All eyes shifted to Connor Williams hours before the 2018 NFL Draft even commenced as the former Longhorn left tackle stepped out onto the red carpet.
“It's always been a dream, but to actually be here and make a red carpet appearance is unreal,” Williams said. “I actually played my last high school game here so this is unreal.”
Williams saw his career at Coppell High School come to a close in 2014 when the Cowboys fell to DeSoto High School in the first round of the state playoffs.
Now, three-and-a-half years later, Williams –– who sported a suit in various shades of blue –– was being interviewed by NFL Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin on the NFL Network just hours ahead of the draft.
“We planned a little custom from head to toe,” Williams said. “Being from Dallas, we had to throw in a little Cowboy blue.”
Williams’ journey to Thursday night hasn’t been a smooth one. The 6-foot-6-inch, 315-pound lineman has been nothing short of transparent about his childhood obstacles. From getting bullied, dealing with obesity and a speech impediment and entering college as a three-star recruit, Williams has discussed it all.
Most recently, the former Longhorn penned a letter to his bullies on NFL.com, which began with “DEAR BULLIES OF MY PAST, Thank you. No sarcasm intended. No hatred. Certainly, no anger. Just a simple thank you.”
“The thing about the story was that adversity hits you in all shapes and sizes and it can hit anybody throughout their life,” Williams said. “It's not about particularly what type of adversity it is, it’s about how you respond to it. Fortunately enough I had a family around me that was so influential in what I became. I’m just lucky to be here. I'm only here because of them.”
Williams was joined by his mother and father on the red carpet, who were both asked about Williams’ journey.
“I'm very proud of him. He knows what it takes and he does it,” Williams’ mother said. “We’ve talked all about it, but I can't talk about it right now.”
As for his weight battle, Williams’ father revealed the secret.
“It started out with P90X at 5:30 every morning. It was tough,” his father said. “Honestly, it was his character. Character is what separates all these guys here. This is a long road for all these boys to be here, and it’s just great to see them all.”
Williams will return to AT&T Stadium on Friday night for day two of the NFL Draft, where he is expected to be selected.