Zereoue Williams’ return to the gridiron this summer has been met with several surprises in the form of major Division I football offers.
The senior, who stands 6-feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 253 pounds, last played football in seventh grade. He began to devote all of his time to basketball, ultimately becoming a cerebral part of the Pride’s run to the state title game last year as a junior.
Williams’ physical presence on the court as a power forward has so far translated to the football field. But his skills on the gridiron have only been witnessed in a preseason scrimmage against Maricopa. He has yet to take a varsity snap due to a foot injury.
But that hasn’t stopped colleges from calling.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Williams said. “A little overwhelming but it’s also been exciting. I didn’t know this is what college teams were looking for.”
Williams’ film against Maricopa opened the eyes of the likes of Florida State, Utah, Iowa State, Boston College and Arizona State. All five offers came in a span of two days. Since then, Oregon State, Missouri and Northern Arizona have also offered Williams a scholarship to play football.
NAU was perhaps the most intriguing offer for Williams. That’s where his older brother and 2019 Mountain Pointe grad, Eriq, plays.
Williams said it was the Lumberjacks who initially gave him the idea to pursue football again due to his size, speed and overall agility from his time on the court.
“NAU told me they would like to see how I move on the field,” Williams said, “I thought it would be great because my brother goes there. I came out, worked with the football team and picked it up pretty well.”
Williams has been able to pick up the tackle position quick thanks in part to training he and Eriq did together throughout the summer. He has also benefitted from Mountain Pointe offensive line coach Kenny Lacy, who played tackle for the Pride and went on to star at UCLA.
His film against Maricopa gave him confidence that he was able to compete at the tackle position. Though, he admits there is still plenty to improve on.
Just like he does in basketball, Williams critiqued his play after the scrimmage. He identified key points of self-improvement, including sealing off the edge and not making false steps out of his stance.
Williams said he knows all of that can be fixed in practice, but where he wants to see himself truly improve is against live competition in games. Something he hasn’t been able to do since his injury suffered just days ahead of the Pride’s season opener against Higley two weeks ago.
So far, he’s progressed in the right direction from his injury. He was on crutches to assist with walking as a precaution when Mountain Pointe faced Higley. On Friday, Oct. 9, just hours ahead of the Pride’s matchup with Centennial, Williams said he could push through and play.
However, he was still benched out of an abundance of caution. He now has set his sights on Mountain Pointe’s Week 3 matchup against Shadow Ridge as his varsity debut as long as he continues in the right direction.
“I’ve been working with the trainers to establish good mobility with it,” Williams said. “I can walk on it now and I’m pretty sure I can run. I hope to be able to go next week.”
Williams is part of a long list of injuries the Pride have already dealt with in the pandemic-shortened season.
He is among at least three other linemen and a slew of skill players who were forced to rest due to injury the first two weeks. Several others remain sidelined due to the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s transfer rule, which forces players to miss half the season.
But even sidelines, colleges have been calling. To say Williams has been surprised by his recruitment picking up at the speed it has is an understatement. He never imagined he would be in this situation.
“I remember when Florida State offered me, they called while I was doing schoolwork and I just sat there stunned,” Williams said. “I don’t even think I realized they were offering me at first.
“This all started with me just wanting NAU to offer me. I never expected this to happen so fast.”
He has no desire to narrow down his list of schools any time soon. When the time comes, he plans to choose the one that will best fit him as a player and the one that will help fulfill his dream of becoming a molecular biologist or software engineer should football not work out.
“I’ve started doing my research,” Williams said, “looking at what some schools have and what others don’t have. I don’t want to narrow my list down just yet. I want to find the right school for me.”