PORT ORCHARD — The first time Ron Williams laid his eyes on his son, Renard, he had visions of pigskins dancing in his head.
“My wife (Dorothy), she didn’t handle the labor that well. He was a big kid,” Ron Williams said. “As soon as he came out, I said, ‘Baby, we’ve got a football player.’ ”
Dad was right.
Renard the baby turned into Renard the 6-foot-2, 305-pound defensive tackle who became a game-changer at South Kitsap High and Eastern Washington University.
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This week, the 23-year-old finds out if he’ll get a chance to take his game to the next level. The NFL draft runs Thursday through Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Williams plans to follow all seven rounds on television from his parents’ home in Port Orchard, waiting to hear his name called.
“I feel like I’m ready to make that jump,” he said.
After redshirting his first year at EWU, Williams became a fixture on the Eagles’ defensive front. He was named first team all-Big Sky Conference as a sophomore, then helped Eastern win the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title as a junior. He had 54 tackles, 6.5 sacks and a school-record four forced fumbles.
The big man wearing No. 98 was calling attention to himself.
“There was a stretch during that playoff run where I thought he was the best football player on the field,” EWU defensive line coach Ryan Sawyer said. “He was unblockable at times. Without him, we might not have won a couple of those games.”
After his junior season, Williams considered making himself eligible for the draft. Some rankings had him listed as a potential mid-round pick.
“I thought about it and met with my family,” Williams said. “It just wasn’t the right choice to make.”
Williams said he wanted another year to mature physically and the chance to compete for another national title.
Things didn’t go according to plan.
EWU lost its first four games and didn’t make the playoffs. Williams, hampered by a sprained ankle, finished with 23 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
The season greatly affected Williams’ draft stock.
Now, Rang said Williams is a long shot to be one of the 253 players taken.
“Every indication I’ve had from clubs is that he is not going to be drafted,” Rang said.
Rang said it’s more likely Williams will be signed as a rookie free agent. Undrafted players are free to sign with teams right after the draft.
Rang said the fact that Williams wasn’t invited to the NFL scouting combine isn’t a good sign. Plus, it’s also a pretty deep class for defensive tackles.
In Williams’ favor, Rang said, is the fact that 20-30 players who don’t attend the combine typically get drafted.
Plus, Williams doesn’t need to impress all 32 NFL clubs.
“All it takes is one,” Rang said.
LOCALs heading to the draft
Players with Washington state ties and when they are projected to be drafted.
Devin Aguilar, WR 5-11/200WashingtonDenverFree agent
Aaron Brown, OLB 6-0/237HawaiiPuyallupFree agent
David DeCastro, OL 6-5/316StanfordBellevue1st round
Cort Dennison, LB 6-1/234WashingtonSalt Lake CityFree agent
Alden Gibbs, CB 6-3/190EWUBrooklyn, N.Y. Free agent
Justin Helwege, WR 6-5/218CWUSammamishFree agent
Alex Hoffman-Ellis, LB 6-1/232WSULos Angeles5th Round
Matt Johnson, SS 6-1/212EWUTumwaterFree agent
Jermaine Kearse, WR 6-1/210WashingtonLakewood7th-free agent
Senio Kelemete, OL 6-4/307WashingtonSeattle4th round
Bo Levi Mitchell, QB 6-2/210EWUKaty, TexasFree agent
Logwone Mitz, RB 6-1/222WSURedmondFree agent
Kellen Moore, QB 6-0/197Boise StateProsser6th-7th round
David Paulson, TE 6-3/246OregonAuburn7th-free agent
Chris Polk, RB 5-11/215WashingtonRedlands, Calif.2nd-3rd round
Quinton Richardson, fs 5-11/204WashingtonSeattle7th-free agent
Alameda Ta’amu, DT 6-3/248WashingtonSeattle2nd-3rd round
Everette Thompson, DT 6-6/272WashingtonRentonFree agent
Renard Williams, DT 6-1/302EWUPort OrchardFree agent