For over 8-years, 365SportsNetwork.com has provided a platform for college football athletes from all levels who are wanting to make it to the next level a platform to hear their stores via interviews here on our network. Our interviews provide a full breakdown of the athlete’s career from their stint in college all the way to their current preparations for the NFL Draft and other pro opportunities. Today we are joined by Grand Valley State quarterback, Bart Williams.
Justin David Kish: Thank you so much for the time, Bart. Please tell us about yourself?
Bart Williams: I am from Grand Blanc (pronounced like blank), Michigan which is a southeast suburb of Flint. Grand Blanc is one of the biggest high schools in the state of Michigan, it could be the biggest. I was a 4-year varsity basketball player in high school and two-year varsity football player. My senior year I was All-State in both basketball and football. I chose to attend Grand Valley State and reside in Grand Rapids, Michigan currently. I have a girlfriend and a dog. My biggest hobbies are eating, golfing, and playing video games, more specifically Fortnite.
Justin David Kish: You played college football at Grand Valley State University. Tell us about your time at Grand Valley State?
Bart Williams: My time at GVSU was spectacular. I was not entirely sure what to expect when I committed to play at a D2 university, but I quickly found out that there is a ton of talent at the division 2 level. Especially at Grand Valley. I spent my first year on the scout team, and second year as a third stringer. That second season, 2014, I got in a game in mop-up time and threw a touchdown on my first college completion. I will never forget that feeling. It was also significant because my first completion on varsity, in high school, was also a touchdown. But that season I injured my knee and got a medical redshirt. So, in the 2015 season I earned the starting quarterback job as a 3rd year Freshman, and we had a really successful season. We had changed a lot of things on offense from the previous year and it resulted in a 45 touchdown season, which led the country, but I also had thrown 20 interceptions. We lost in the national semi-final game that year. But, my time at Grand Valley was phenomenal. I learned so much about becoming a man. I finished out my career as a 4 year starter and started 50 games. The coaches were all great, and taught me a lot about the game of football and accountability, and I made life long bonds with teammates in the process as well.
Justin David Kish: At Grand Valley, you chose to wear the #6. Is their a reason behind the #6?
Bart Williams: I chose to wear #6 because in high school I had worn #9, and the #9 upside down was #6. But I wore #9 because my dad’s name is Ted Williams, and the famous baseball player Ted Williams from the Red Sox back in the day wore the #9. In the 2015 season when I got to choose my number, Matt Judon wore the #9 and I had arranged with him a way for me to acquire the number from him. He told me that in December, 2014 that if I could get 10 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds by March, that I could have #9. At the time I could do 7 reps, but over winter break I got extremely sick and did not have enough time to gain my strength back to do the reps in time, so I wore #6 instead.
Justin David Kish: During your tenure at Grand Valley, you were coached by head coach Matt Mitchell. What did you learn under Matt Mitchell and the rest of the Grand Valley coaching staff?
Bart Williams: Coach Mitchell and the rest of the coaching staff do a tremendous job of relating the teachings of football to real life. I learned how to sacrifice personal interest for the betterment of the team. I learned to be accountable, and to take responsibility for my own performance. I learned what the ideal team player is, and how to work on the things that can make you the ideal team player. I learned how to be on time to everything. Overall, I learned the ins and outs of how to become a better community member, student, quarterback, physical athlete, mental athlete, and teammate through the game of football.
Justin David Kish: Playing in the GLIAC in Division-II you played against tough teams like Ferris State, Wayne State and Ashland. When you look back on your career, what is one game that really took you to your limits and how did you fair?
Bart Williams: There were so many games that really took me to my limits. I think that the two most notable games that stick out would be the playoff win against Ferris State in 2015, and then the regular season win against Ferris State in 2016. Ferris had beaten us by 40 in the regular season matchup, but in the playoffs we edged out a 38-35 win to advance to the regional finals. That game had a lot of ups and downs. That game included a SportsCenter top 10 play, I had thrown a vertical route to Urston Smith who caught the ball full extension in the endzone. His catch was incredible but was really cool to get on SportsCenter. Avenging that 40 point loss was most special. Then in 2016 we played them in the regular season and got out to a hot start, then we stalled out offensively for the third quarter and most of the fourth. They had come back within 4 points of us, and late in the fourth quarter we converted a 3rd and long from inside our own 20 yard line. Then we rattled off a few more completions and got the ball to midfield. Then, under pressure I threw a go ball that hit Nick Dodson in stride right at the front pylon that basically shut the door on their potential come back. That was arguably my favorite play of my career, and it was under a ton of pressure in an extremely competitive game.
Justin David Kish: Being a quarterback you throw it into some of the toughest defenses in D-II. Who was the toughest player you ever thrown against in your career?
Bart Williams: Tavierre Thomas from Ferris State was probably the toughest player I have ever thrown against. He was extremely strong, and physical, but also had a lot of speed. I think he picked me off 3 times in one game, and a lot of them were just because he had simply out-muscled our receiver in a 50/50 ball situation. That is difficult to do once in a game, but he did it a lot. Now he is on the Browns active roster, so even the NFL noticed how talented he is and I have a lot of respect for him.
Justin David Kish: You created so many memories in your career at Grand Valley State. What is one memory that stands out from the rest?
Bart Williams: One memory that stands out the most is probably that throw against Ferris State in the 2016 regular season game. We could hardly move the ball offensively at that point of the game and it looked like Ferris was going to surge back and take the lead. I had personally been struggling at that point, and to stand in the pocket and deliver a ball on 3rd and long to extend the drive, and then to drop one in over the top for a touchdown was such a great individual accomplishment within the game.
Justin David Kish: What does it mean to be a Grand Valley State Laker?
Bart Williams: Being a Grand Valley State Laker means doing all of the little things with intense detail. Doing things that you HAVE to do so you can accomplish things you WANT to do in the future. Selfless and brotherhood are the words that come mostly to mind.
Justin David Kish: You are now shifting your focus to professional football. How are you currently preparing yourself for your upcoming Pro Day, the NFL Draft and other pro opportunities?
Bart Williams: Right now I am in the process of signing with an agent. This will dictate my training schedule coming in January and February. I am now recovered from all of the bumps and bruises from the season, and working hard on my nutrition and getting back into the weight room. Throwing will come soon.
Justin David Kish: What are your pre-draft measurables?
Bart Williams: In the spring when we had Junior Day, I measured at 6′ 4 7/8″ and my hand size was 10″ from pinky to thumb. Right now I am weighing 220 pounds and am hopeful to be closer to 225 or 230 for my pro day.
Justin David Kish: What would your coaches say the type of player you are?
Bart Williams: My coaches would say that I am an intense competitor and that I am extremely focused on my craft. I am a pocket passer, most definitely, and have a great feel for how to manipulate the ball based on how the defender is positioned in relation to my receiver. My coaches would say that I am a dedicated student of the game, and trust me that I understand our offense as a whole, not just the pass plays.
Justin David Kish: When watching film what do you look for?
Bart Williams: I look for what the defensive coordinator tries to do on a consistent basis, what the pre-snap alignment is on those base coverages, and then look at personnel. Also, finding the key to the coverages. Many teams like to disguise but there is commonly an answer to the test if you watch enough film. I look for what pressures are most prevalent, it will dictate how I want to manage the protections and run game for the week. I also like to look at other team’s explosive passes against their defense to see if there is a pattern where the defense is vulnerable and has been exposed.
Justin David Kish: What are some your biggest strength’s and what is one area of your game you are always working on?
Bart Williams: I think my biggest strength is accuracy down the field, and basic feel for which kind of ball I need to throw. My film has a ton of back-shoulder fades that all vary in trajectory and width to the receiver. Throwing a receiver that is covered down the field open is a great way to manufacture explosive plays, and I do that very well. Something I constantly work on is getting to my check down. I did a much better job this year to not force too much down the field and dump it down. But there are still times I feel I can fit a ball into a tight window where the less risky and sometimes more rewarding option is to check it down.
Justin David Kish: Name a point in your career where you overcame adversity and what did you learn from the experience?
Bart Williams: Getting over my two knee surgeries was a point of adversity that is rewarding that I have overcome. I tore my meniscus twice and had it scoped twice in a 6 month time period. The second surgery was in the spring before the 2015 season and I spent every single day in the gym rehabbing the entire summer. Rehabbing is an annoying part of being an athlete, but when you’re injured its necessary. So, putting in the work over that summer to put myself in position to be the starting quarterback for that season is an instance where I learned a lot about myself and am proud that I fought through that to play for that year and beyond.
Justin David Kish: Do you have the ability to command the players around you?
Bart Williams: I most definitely have the ability to command the players around. I think that I have done a great job of remaining positive with all the players around, and developed a “we” mentality on the field. We were always playing for each other, and I believe I was an integral piece to that during my time at Grand Valley based on how I treated my teammates at practice, outside of practice, and during games.
Justin David Kish: How do you stand out from the other draft-eligible quarterbacks?
Bart Williams: I think I stand out from other draft eligible quarterbacks simply based on experience. I do not know the numbers of all of them, but I started 50 games in college and threw over 120 touchdowns. I imagine that both of those numbers are going to be at least top 3 among eligible quarterbacks. I understand that numbers do not tell the story, but I believe those stats are a solid foundation to the product I put on tape with a prototypical quarterback frame.
Justin David Kish: In the next couple of questions I am going to put you on the line. My first question, if you could compare yourself to any current NFL quarterback who would you compare yourself to and why?
Bart Williams: If I could compare myself to a quarterback in the NFL, I would have to say Jared Goff. I think that his accuracy down field is really good, and I love that he overcame the adversity from his rookie campaign to his second and now third year. To do that, you have to have some self-confidence and grit and I believe that I have the mental toughness. I think I possess similar intangible and tangible traits.
Justin David Kish: My final question. If I was an NFL General Manager why should I draft Bart Williams?
Bart Williams: You should draft me because I have the mental and physical tools to play quarterback in the NFL. Every opportunity I have ever had athletically, I have been an impact player. I was not fortunate enough to get the opportunity at a division 1 school, but I made the most of the opportunity I was handed at the division 2 level. I understand the game of football at an extremely high level, and can easily grasp and perform new concepts in a short period of time. I am a competitor, I love to compete and come out on top. I always strive for more, and have never been complacent. I would be a great addition to an NFL roster as a player, competitor, teammate, student, and person.