The Indianapolis Colts trimmed their roster down to 53 players in preparation for their Week 1 matchup against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, and one of the more surprising names on the list of players that made the cut was defensive tackle Chris Williams, who spent last year on the practice squad.
The Colts could’ve picked someone with more NFL experience to serve as a backup for Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner, but Frank Reich and Matt Eberflus decided to roll with Williams, a player from a school in Wagner that has just four NFL players to their name and two who have played multiple seasons in the league.
Williams’ story is not only one of overcoming the odds by beating out established players as a small-school unknown, but the fact that he is even in this position considering how bleak things looked for a period of time as a high-school recruit makes this a story bout the triumph of the human spirit.
During his senior year of high school in Brooklyn, Williams, who was not offered a scholarship by Temple despite prior interest, was languishing with zero D-I offers and was making extra money by working at a pizza restaurant. Fast forward a few years, and he’s in the NFL.
Chris Williams overcame the odds to make the Colts.
Wagner, which is located on Staten Island, sought to corner the market on New York City players, as the city’s reputation as a basketball factory has some quality football players often go unnoticed or underappreciated by the larger college football landscape. Williams took advantage by becoming an instant impact player for the Seahawks.
Williams recorded 62 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and four sacks during his final collegiate season. While it became tough to get noticed due to the lack of interviews in-person created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams slipped through the cracks and ended up sneaking onto Indianapolis’ practice squad.
While Wagner was blown out 62-10 by Syracuse early in 2019, a Colts area scout noticed his style of play, and the rest was history. After getting tutelage from former NFL nose tackle Terrance Knighton in college and Colts legend Robert Mathis during the offseason, Williams is ready to go to work.
The Colts have noticed the vast strides that he has made from college to the pros. Buckner was quoted as saying Williams is “playing like his hair is on fire,” and the Colts increased the number of snaps he received in each preseason game.
Williams has one of the more unlikely roads to the NFL on this roster, but he’s finally made a 53-man roster, meaning his journey from part-time pizza shop employee to underrecruited lineman to NFL backup is complete.