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April 24, 2014

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PREP FOOTBALL RECRUITING:

Valley’s electric quarterback signs with Utah State

Image

Brett Okamoto

Kerwynn Williams, in between parents Kendall and Ingrid Williams, addresses family and friends at his signing party in the library at Valley High School on Wednesday.

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Kerwynn Williams, in between parents Kendall and Ingrid Williams, prepares to sign an offer to play at Utah State next fall.

Team pages

After a lengthy recruitment process that involved contacting over 60 NCAA schools, Valley senior Kerwynn Williams finally signed on to play football at Utah State next year.

If for some reason those negotiations would have fallen through, however, rest assured the list of colleges contacted by Kerwynn's father, Kendall Williams, would have grown.

"If that didn't come through, then I was going to have to get back on the phone," Kendall said. "Bottom line, I would have had to go back to work again – my second job."

After being named one of the national Old Spice Red Zone Players of the Year following a season in which Kerwynn rushed for over 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, finding a college for the senior proved to be a difficult challenge.

Despite all of his on-field accomplishments, many colleges couldn't get past his 5-foot-8, 170-pound frame.

"They all liked the tapes," Kendall said. "They'd say, 'Looks good, like it, love it, but...' There was always a 'but.' It just seemed like my son was always on deck or in the hole. In our society they want guys who are 6-foot-1, 6-foot-2, but does that make them the better man?"

Kerwynn never gave up on his dream though. Although he boasts a 3.875 GPA with aspirations toward an engineering degree, he could not imagine life without football.

After all the phone calls, the turning point in Kerwynn's recruiting process came last summer when he decided to attend a football camp in Utah. Kerwynn was named the camp's Most Valuable Back and came into contact with Utah State running backs coach Ilaisa Tuiaki.

The two started a good relationship, which eventually led to Kerwynn's decision to become an Aggie.

"It was pretty frustrating, but you can't really get mad at it," Kerwynn said. "You can't dwell on the fact it wasn't happening because you have no control over it. All I could control was how I played. I'm very happy with how it ended, I like the coaching staff and it seems like they've got something really good going."

Kerwynn joins two other recent Valley graduates who have had success in football after high school. Stevenson Sylvester, linebacker for the Utah Utes and Geno Odong, a cornerback at Utah State, both graduated in 2006.

After playing as a quarterback this past season for the Vikings, Kerwynn will be used as a running back and a slot receiver next year.

"He's got a drive to compete and it doesn't matter if it's as a receiver or a running back, he's going to work to make plays," said Valley coach John Elwell. "He's a kid that's willing to do the work in the weightroom. He's a team player and he can take on a leadership role. He'll do what it takes to help the team."

As Kerwynn finally put on the Utah State hat and began to sign the papers that would finalize his opportunity to play college football, those closest to him couldn't help but think of his father's similar rise through the sport over the same challenges.

Back in 1982, a 5-foot-9 defensive back for Arizona State named Kendall Williams was told he wasn't physical enough to continue to play football. Kendall ended up joining the Baltimore Colts that year as a free agent.

"Never stop trying," Kerwynn said. "You can never let anyone tell you that you're not good enough. They can take away your playing time but they can't take your talent away from you."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or brett.okamoto@lasvegassun.com.

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