I have been promising an update for some time. Unfortunately, due to the many time constraints, it has been difficult to mesh Dontae's schedule and my schedule for an interview, but rest assured, I am working diligently to bring some specifics to this conversation.
It was announced in February of this year that Dontae would be seeking a transfer from the University of Oregon. There was little information at the time of his departure and Dontae has not given an interview since he left. He has agreed, however, to speak with me and let me delve further into where he is, what his plans for the future are, and how he is doing in his new location.
The story of Dontae Williams is not what most people would expect; we often hear how superstar athletes are coddled, but we forget that many of the young me we cheer for on Saturdays have not had the best circumstances. Yet, in many, even with human frailty, we can find some redemptive quality. For Dontae that was his grandmother "MeMe" Williams. Meme raised Dontae and takes great pride in all that he does. It was her guidance that helped Dontae navigate the most difficult times in his life.
After Dontae left Oregon, it was decision time again. Knowing of his departure, recruiting coordinators wanted to get in contact with him again; he was a "free-agent." Many presumed he would head back to Texas and go the junior college route. But then he got a call from Garrett Robinson, Recuriting Corrdinator at Grossmont College in San Diego. After speaking with Robinson, Williams began to warm to the idea of living in San Diego and playing for the Griffins of Grossmont.
Kevin Smith, Grossmont Running Backs coach, says Dontae is doing well and really works well with his team mates. Smith told us "You can really tell how committed Dontae is to his team mates and to being a better player."
On the field, Williams is just starting to make his mark. After not seeing any carries during Grossmont's first two games, Williams was their leading rusher in a 40-37 loss to Southwestern College. That game was an aerial battle, though as Grossmont rushed for a total of 68 yards on 21 carries. Dontae carried the ball 6 times for 35 yards.
Coach Smith offered that it took some time for Dontae to adjust to the offense. "We run a pro-style offense, which is a lot different from what Dontae ran at Oregon," Smith told us. Smith did also offer that "Dontae can run in either offense. The kid is so strong. He can really do well no matter what, he just needed time to learn the new system. I really see him making more of an impact as the season progresses."
Junior colleges, though, are not the easiest road to travel. Financial aid only pays tuition; the athlete is responsible for his own books as well as room and board. That means a job.
You might think that a kid who had come from a place like the University of Oregon, with facilities and amenities like no other, would have an attitude and feel as if he were "better than this." Not true of Dontae.
"His grandmother did a really good job of raising him," Smith continued. "He's a really great kid. I'm sure he could have come here thinking that he was going to get all the carries right away. I think he probably wants more carries. But he is just such a great kid. He knows what he has to do to get more carries." Rather than complain, Dontae Williams just keeps working hard.
According to sources at Oregon and Grossmont, Dontae was in good academic standing when he left Oregon and is still in good academic standing at Grossmont. There were options for Williams to choose from. He did not have to go to a junior college; he could have transferred to another FBS school, sat out a year and had three years of remaining eligibility. He could have transferred down a level and been eligible immediately.
The junior college route offered some options, though, that going to another university would not have. Specifically, Dontae can work on acquiring an Associates Degree and transfer after a year if that works for him, but he is not set, yet, on staying at Grossmont for only one season. "He told me that if he needed both years, he would stay for both," Coach Smith confided.
With the past behind him, the future is still bright for Dontae Williams. The constant in his life, his grandmother "MeMe," supports his decision. It is tough to be away from where he is playing, but she knows what is important.
In closing Coach smith offered this about Dontae, "I have been very impressed with Dontae as a person. He's got a level head on his shoulders. Credit for that goes to his grandmother. It is a pleasure to have him on the team."
Dontae has been working his way into the rotation as a running back for Grossmont. Two weeks ago, Dontae had his first 100 yard rushing performance in college carrying the ball 16 times for 105 yards. The 6.6 yards per carry was a nice day for Dontae. He also scored two rushing touchdowns in the contest against Saddleback.
After the game I asked Dontae if it felt good to have his breakout performance. "Yeah, it did," Williams said. "I am looking to improve each week. Really looking to improve my explosiveness this season."
Dontae is very self aware of his strengths and weaknesses and recognizes that the best thing we can do in both life and on the field is to recognize our weaknesses and work to improve them while capitalizing on our strengths.
With that thought, Dontae approaches each game.
Dontae is looking to finish up his associates this season and then transfer back into a Division I (FBS) school. One school that interests him is San Diego State. "I'm hoping to get in good with San Diego State," Williams told me. "I heard that they were at my game. I am hoping to finish before next fall and get to a new school."
For her part, Dontae's grandmother Mary "MeMe" Williams told me "I give him all the encouragement I can give him. He is an outstanding young man; I am very proud of him. My love for him is unconditional."
You can bet that this is one family that will continue to work hard and move forward. Mary said that Dontae seems very stable and really feels strong about his future both on and off the field. Times have not always been easy, but MAry has given Dontae all the support she can and works hard to keep him moving forward. Ms. Williams expresses her gratitude and love to all those fans that have stood by and supported Dontae. "He's going to do well in his football career. We will not forget all the people that rallied around him."
In a family not blessed with material wealth, they have the one thing that is most important in this world; the one thing that cannot be taken away; love and support.
As Dontae's career progresses, we will keep you up to date as much as possible.