Former big-time recruit, NFL prospect arrested
You can follow Charles Robinson on Twitter at @YahooSportsNFL.
The tale of nomadic football talent Willie Williams took another dramatic turn last week, when the former No. 1 prep recruit was arrested for burglarizing a home of nearly $18,000 in cash and valuables, according to a police report.
Williams was arrested on the evening of Aug. 27 and charged with burglary and reckless driving by the Gwinnett County (Ga.) Police department. The arrest came after an acquaintance of Williams, Karen Postma, reported that her family’s Suwanee home had been robbed. Police subsequently identified Williams as a potential suspect.
According to an arrest report obtained by Yahoo! Sports, Williams was found with items from the home in both the trunk of his car and inside his Duluth hotel room. The penalty for burglary carries a sentence of 1-20 years on the first conviction, while reckless driving can carry a maximum sentence of one year. Both penalties vary based on prior criminal record.
The arrest is the latest twist for Williams, who was once a heavily recruited linebacker at Miami’s Carol City High School. Once thought to be a lock to develop into an NFL-caliber player, Williams spent the past five years becoming more famous for his indiscretions than his football exploits. His missteps included 11 arrests in high school, a salacious diary for the Miami Herald bragging about the extravagant nature of college football recruiting, and stops at five colleges in five years. Just days before April’s NFL draft, Williams spoke to Yahoo! Sports about those problems, suggesting his hard times were behind him.
“I don’t look at my life with bitterness,” Williams said in April. “I look at it with motivation. This is the bed I made and chose to lay in, so I’m going to have to sleep in it.”
Now, that slumber will continue in the Gwinnett County Detention Center where Williams is being held without bond as he awaits trial. The latest problems arose as Williams was trying to catch on with the UFL, after failing to be selected in the NFL draft. Despite some cursory interest from the Green Bay Packers, Williams also failed to be signed as an undrafted free agent.
Apparently undeterred, Williams was working out with other UFL hopefuls at Competitive Edge Sports in Duluth as recently as this month. That is where Williams met Postma’s nephew. According to the police report, Williams had previously been invited inside the Postma home by the nephew, and was allegedly on hand when the home’s security system was deactivated with a code.
A source close to the investigation said both Williams and Postma’s nephew worked out for UFL teams on Aug. 22. Members of the Postma family declined to comment when reached by Yahoo! Sports, but a source close to the investigation said the family was on hand for Williams’ recent UFL workout, and had talked and encouraged Williams at the event. Two days later on Aug. 24, the Postma home was burglarized.
According to the police report, the family had already departed the residence for the day when the robbery occurred. The home showed no signs of forced entry, and beyond the items that were missing, the scene was largely undisturbed.
“The jewelry armoire was cleaned out completely,” the source close to the investigation said. “[The burglar] took the drawers and dumped them in a bag. It was nice of [the burglar] to just leave the drawers on the bed. It was like one of the most cordial robberies I’ve ever heard of. It wasn’t like someone tore up the cushions or anything like that. Maybe he had a shred of respect for [the family]. I don’t know.”
Police identified Williams at his hotel and according to the report, pursued him at a high rate of speed after he left the area in a car. Williams stopped at an area mobile home park, where officers arrested him and asked to search the trunk of the car. Williams consented to the search of the car, and some stolen items were found in the trunk. Police then executed a search warrant on Williams’ hotel room and found other missing property. The report indicated that stolen items from the home included video gaming systems, one home computer, one laptop computer, four iPods, a cell phone, cash, jewelry and other assorted items.
The charges should be a significant blow – and perhaps the coup de grâce – to Williams’ pursuit of a professional football career. Williams’ tumultuous five-year college career took him to the University of Miami (two seasons, one redshirt before transferring), West Los Angeles Community College (one season), Louisville (three games, ending after an arrest for marijuana possession), Division II Glenville State (one semester, before being denied transfer by the NCAA to the West Virginia school), and finally, tiny NAIA school Union College (one season) in Barbourville, Ky.
In his lone season at Union College, Williams drew the attention of multiple NFL teams prior to the draft. And while he ultimately wasn’t selected or signed as an undrafted player, two NFC personnel sources expressed optimism to Yahoo! Sports that Williams could salvage his image, and perhaps even an NFL career, by way of the UFL.
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