Some athletes are born to compete. They compete in everything they do. And they always hate to lose.
Former University of Utah free safety Marcus Williams falls into this category. He loves to win and hates to lose in even the the smallest, most insignificant activities. But this competitive fire has worked well for Williams, helping him become one of the top safeties in college football with 11 interceptions over his three-year career as a Ute.
Williams’ off-the-field accomplishments aren’t far behind. In high school he earned a 4.0 GPA and was named a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 Academic.
Put simply, Williams gets the job done.
Williams credits his competitive spirit to his family. His mother, father and three older brothers competed in everything they did—bowling, running, playing basketball and playing cards. When there was a chance to win, it was go time.
Now Williams has a chance to take his competitiveness and put it to use on the biggest stage—the NFL. STACK caught with Williams as he was training for the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine at EXOS (Phoenix) to learn about his competitiveness, his relationship with his family and how he is preparing to become a dominant NFL safety.
He’s been competing since he was a kid
“I’ve been a competitor ever since I was born and that’s what I bring to the table on anything I do, no matter what it is. Being the first one here at Exos, being the last one to leave, doing the most reps, being the strongest. That’s what I do because I never want somebody to be better than me. I don’t care who they are. I always say that I’m better than everybody else just because that’s my confidence, but I’m just a competitor.”
His family causes a ruckus when they go bowling
“We like to go bowling a lot. We always compete on that. My mom and my dad and my brothers . . . I mean we get so competitive that the whole bowling alley is looking at us because we are screaming and yelling just because the other person wants to beat the other person out. But that’s one of my most favorite things that we do.”
He’s the best bowler in his family
“I am pretty good. I mean I don’t really lose that much, so you could say I’m pretty good. I’m the best one in the family. They can believe what they want but I am the best in the family.”
He likes to go fishing to relax
“My dad introduced me to fishing a long time ago. I haven’t went as much since football has been going on, but it’s pretty fun going out there and relaxing with him and being around my family. I get to relax and take my mind away from everything that’s going on. But when I go to football, I turn it up a notch. I’m ready to go attack it as soon as I step on the field. I turn into a different beast, and that’s the mentality you need when you get on the football field, unlike fishing.”
He stays close with his family when he’s away from home
“My brothers were just out here at EXOS. We’re always trying to be around each other, and it’s better to be around them than be around any other people that are just trying to get something from you. So my family, we’re pretty close. We talk almost every week and we never lose that connection.”
RELATED: 3 Defensive Back Drills to Improve Your Footwork
His family helped him keep his focus during the NFL Combine and Draft process
“My family has helped me a lot. They’re always in my head, and they are always telling me the things that I need to do, whether that’s planning, financial or mindset—just making sure that I’m all there all the time and making sure I’m not doing anything wrong that’s going to affect the process.
“They tell me to stay focused. I don’t need to worry about the girls. I don’t need to worry about other people that are trying to get in my ear now, because they weren’t there before and now they want to be my friend. My family just wants me to stay focused, remain humble and continue to grind.”
His family taught him never to give up when the going gets tough
“My dad always told me that if you commit to something, you commit to that and you never, never quit. You never give up no matter how hard the task is. You keep going, and that’s what I think about every time I feel like I’m too tired or I’m hurt. I just hear it in my head, ‘Don’t quit, keep going.’”
He overcame a knee injury
“My biggest obstacle was probably getting injured and having to come back from that pretty quick. A lot of people take the game for granted, but I know every play could be my last play. When I got hurt, I’m thinking this could be my last play, but I got over it. I had a good mindset and I came back pretty quickly. The next game I came back I had a great game and I continued to play well from then on.”
His thinks the injury improved his mental toughness
“I feel like there’s nothing that I can’t do. I faced a bad knee experience. I know that I could overcome whatever comes in my way. I’m not afraid to work. I’m not afraid to go round the obstacles that are in my way because I know that I can get through it regardless of how painful it is, regardless of what could happen, because I’ve already been through it.”
He wants to prove his dominance at safety
“I’m just trying to prove that I am one of the top safeties in the country. It doesn’t matter who I’m facing or who’s in front of me, I’m going to show them that I am the top guy. I’m going to be the most athletic, I’m going to be the smartest and I’m going to do everything that they need to help their team out.”
He believes that when it’s in the air, the ball belongs to him
“I love going to get the ball. I used to play receiver, so when the ball is in the air, I’m always competing to get the ball. I don’t want anybody else to get it. If the ball is in the air, it’s mine. That’s how I feel every time. I can get to the ball from anywhere on the field and I’m pretty sure if the ball is up in the air, I’m going to be the one to get it. I’m always ready to go get the ball and be a ballhawk.”
He likes being compared to Ed Reed
“A lot of people compare me to Ed Reed just because he’s a ballhawk, and that’s what I do. I like to go get the ball. I like to make plays and I never want to be the outcast. I want to be the best. I want everybody to know that I’m the best guy, and I feel like that’s who he was. He wanted to make sure that he was the best and he always was going to get the ball, and that’s what I do.”
RELATED: Become a Lockdown Defensive Back With These Drills
Utah vs. BYU was the biggest battle he faced on the field.
“Everybody talks about the BYU game. That’s a rivalry, so all the emotions are there. The crowd is loud. Coaches are emotional. Players are emotional. That was probably the biggest battle that came down to the last play where we had to stop the quarterback from getting in the end zone or else we will lose. It will be talked about for t years to come. That was a tough game. Each play, you never know what was going to happen because it was just that type of game. Anything can happen at any moment. It was an experience that I will never forget, just because that was my first in-state rivalry game at home, and I’m happy I played in that type of game and that type of environment.”
His nutrition has significantly improved
“When I came here to EXOS, I wasn’t eating the right way. Once I got here I was eating a lot of vegetables and a lot of different types of food, whether it’s salmon or just steak cooked the right way or having the right type of rice. It gives me more energy to be ready to come out here and perform at my highest level each day and not lag behind. Nutrition is a big part of how you perform. If you don’t eat right, you won’t perform right.”
His cheat meal is chicken Alfredo
“Chicken Alfredo. We are not supposed to have that because it’s just a lot of stuff in there that you’re not supposed to have. That’s my favorite food. That’s what my mom always makes me, so every time I go home that’s what I can get. So I will probably cheat when I go home.”
RELATED: The 4 Most Important Sports Nutrition Rules for Athletes
He will probably spend the Draft with his family
“I’ll just be in the house with my family. I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ll do, but that’s under discussion right now. I’m not sure really what I’m going to be doing.
“All the hard work I’ve been putting in is finally getting to the point where it’s paying off. But it’s not really paying off yet until years to come. So I’m going to continue to push forward and makes sure I am the best that I can be in football and continue to be the person I know I can be.”