What It's Like to Be a Small-School Prospect Trying to Make It to the NFL as an Undrafted Free Agent

How a star Division II running back is attempting to make it to the NFL.

Terry Williams has his back against the wall. It comes with the territory when you play football at a Division II school.

In his final season as a running back for Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Williams scored 14 touchdowns in only 11 games and was named to his second All-PSAC East Second Team. If he had been given the opportunity to run the 40-Yard Dash at the NFL Combine, he would've run the third fastest time.

Despite his accolades, Williams did not get drafted. At this point, he's doing everything in his power just to get noticed by NFL teams, who focus their attention on Division I prospects. But his hard work in college and training with STACK Experts Scott Gunter and Dylan Spadaccini at SportsCare Performance Institute (Whippany, New Jersey) has paid off. He's garnered interest from the New York Jets, New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts, and he hopes to get a chance with one of these teams.

Check out his highlight tape below.

STACK caught up with Williams to learn what it's like to be a Division II football player trying to make the leap to the NFL.

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STACK: What has your mindset been on your journey to the NFL?

Williams: It's a dream come true because it's something I've always wanted. It's really exciting but a bit nerve racking. It's really what I want to do, so I'm putting everything I have into it. I want to put my best foot forward and say that at the end of the day, I tried my absolute best.

What's your daily training schedule look like?

Scott has me going two to three times each day. I wake up early and eat extremely healthy. He has me do a rigorous training program. I do a lot of stretches and then do speed work. He helped me with combine prep, so now we are transitioning from the combine to actual football training. He has me doing a lot of footwork drills, catching the ball, lifting—stuff like that.

How has your training changed now that you are no longer preparing for testing?

When training for tests, you have to focus on technique. Like with the 5-10-5 and L-Drill, you need to focus on steps and how to make certain turns. It's a lot different from playing football and running around. The steps are different and angles are different in a test compared to running a wide receiver route. Training your body for that is totally different. It's not football.

What obstacles are you up against coming from a D-II school?

There are a lot of obstacles I'm up against—like not graduating from my particular high school. I came out of an alternative school. I didn't think I was going to graduate high school. I thought I was going to finish with a GED. I ended up buckling down and staying put and getting my high school diploma. And then going to a junior college. At a junior college, you're not under a microscope as much, so it's an obstacle to get D-I scouts to look at you. At a D-II program, the competition is not as hard as a D-I program, but the transition was challenging, competing against those guys.

Then making the transition from that in my draft class. I'm going against D-I guys and I'm trying to put up better numbers than the guys playing my position. I'm trying to match that and do better because I am coming from a smaller school so my tape isn't going to show as much as if I was playing against SEC teams. I'm playing against lower-level competition. I'm trying to make myself stand out so I can show I can play with anybody no matter what level I'm playing at. I'm not a 6-foot-2, 230-pound guy. I'm a 5-foot-9, 200-pound running back.

What are you trying to prove to scouts and coaches?

I'm trying to prove that it doesn't matter what level I came from. I'm going to compete. Personally, I believe there's no one that's better than me. It doesn't matter that I'm not ranked one of the top guys. You can put your best guy in front of me and I'm going to do my absolute best to win the job, and I'm just as capable as a 6-foot-2 guy. I'm ready to compete and work the hardest I can.

Are you trying to model yourself after anyone?

I played in the PSAC. Brett Grimes—he plays cornerback for the Dolphins. He came from Shippensburg University. That's an ideal guy. And Andre Reed. He's an older guy, but he just got elected to the NFL Hall of Fame and he came from my school. Our stadium just got named after him. I see that he did it, so that makes me believe I can do it. It's just a matter of putting the work in and staying diligent. I've seen them come from a similar place.

What are your weapons as a running back?

My speed. I ran a low 4.4 at my Temple Pro Day and regional combine. I also feel like I'm durable. I've never had a major injury. I do a lot of injury prevention with Scott and Dylan. My hands are good. I can run between tackles and I will never shy away from contact. And change of direction, which I work on a lot. They really focus on change of direction, having quick feet and getting your feet down.

What type of impact are you hoping to have?

I'm trying to win the job, of course. I'm trying to be a winner and have a winning attitude. If I do make it to the next level, I want to show the veteran guys that I'm here to compete and do whatever I can to help the team win. I'm a team guy more than focusing on myself. With the coaches, I want to show them I will do whatever they want me to, whether that's playing special teams, kickoff, running back or punt return. I'm just here to compete and do whatever I need to do.

What's your favorite play in college?

It's the first play on my highlight tape. It was the second play of the game. We played East Stroudsburg. I jumped offsides on my first play of the game, because I thought the count was on one and it was on two. So they moved the ball back to the half-yard line. On the next play, I broke a 99-yard run.

Sample Workout From Terry's Plan

Here is a sample workout created by Gunter and Spadaccini, which you can see Terry performing in the videos above.

  • Hurdle Starts - 6x25-yd sprints
  • Sled 3-Point Starts - 6x25-yd sprints
  • Precision Jumps x 6
  • Precision Steps (Linear) x 6
  • Precision Steps (Lateral) x 6
  • Shift Changes x 10

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: FOOTBALL | WORKOUTS