HOLLY HILL - All he ever wanted to do was make his hometown proud and show the kids looking up to him that they too could make it out of the small town and to the biggest stage.
That is all that former Lake Marion Gator and Clemson Tiger Mike Williams ever wanted.
“A lot of guys where I come from usually don’t make it out; but I feel like I had the opportunity to be the example for the guys in my community,” Williams said recently. “That’s one of the main reasons I’m doing what I do right now. I wanted to get my degree to show the guys back home that it is possible to get your degree and have fun.
“I wanted to be the example and I feel like I’m the guy that can be the example for the younger kids out there looking up to me. For me just to come to college and show them that it is possible to come from Vance and go to college and do the sport that you want to play. I’m just trying to be the example for the guys back home.”
On Thursday, at exactly 9 p.m., all of those dreams of being the ultimate example became a reality as the 6-foot-4, 218-pound wide receiver was chosen with the seventh pick of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers.
That's right, No. 7 went No. 7.
It was a day that he had dreamed about since he was a little kid in his backyard in Vance. But nothing could prepare him for the moment that the phone rang on Thursday.
“It was crazy, crazy,” Williams said after taking the call while among family and friends in Holly Hill. “I mean, just watching the draft the previous years and seeing the people get that phone call.
"It was unreal and I mean, I’m just ready to get out there and go.”
It was a moment that for Williams meant all of the long hours spent on the practice fields of Lake Marion and then at Clemson had finally paid off. But as soon as the hugs and well wishes were done, the realization set in that it was time to get to work.
“I had a feeling that it could be them (San Diego); I had a really good workout for them in Clemson,” Williams said. “I’m ready to get out there and get to work.
"I know they have a really good quarterback (Phillip Rivers) and I’m ready to get out there and be a big target for him.”
Being chosen in the first round had been Williams’ goal ever since he was a kid. But for many around the nation, those dreams were in doubt in 2015 after he suffered a fractured neck while catching a touchdown pass on the opening drive of the season.
But even as he was laying on the turf of Clemson’s Death Valley, he never wavered in his belief that he would once again play the game that he loved and never wavered in his belief that he would be among the top receivers taken in the draft. He was the second receiver drafted in the first round on Thursday, after Western Michigan wideout Corey Davis went at No. 5 to the Tennessee Titans.
“This year is going to be me my senior year; no redshirt,” Williams said prior to the start of last season. “That’s my goal — it should be everybody’s goal to be a first-round draft pick.
“That was my goal for last year and that’s my goal for this year, to be a first-round draft pick next year.”
For Williams, the list of accomplishments and goals that have been met is astonishing. From playing college football and winning a national championship to getting his degree in less than four years. Simply put, everything that he has put his mind to he has accomplished.
So there is little doubt about what his goal for his new team is - win a Super Bowl, and given his track record of accomplishments - one would be foolish to bet against him.
The Chargers have been looking for a dominant receiver since Vincent Jackson left for Tampa Bay in 2012. Their top pass-catcher last season - their last year in San Diego - was 6-foot-4 Tyrell Williams, who could team with Mike Williams to provide an imposing size match-up of Williams receivers for NFL defenses to cover.