Julian Williams knows he’s come a long way.
Listed at 5-foot-9, he was often the smallest football player on the field among his Millbrook High School teammates and their opponents.
His size didn’t stop him, though. It encouraged him to dig deeper into the game and use his mind on the field.
It paid off, as the graduated linebacker will make an appearance in the N.C. Coaches Association East-West All-Star football game 8 p.m. Wednesday in Greensboro.
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Williams credited perseverance and diligence as traits backing his success in football, which led to the all-star selection and playing in college at Catawba College.
“Being from where I started on the varsity level at the start of my sophomore year, going into my junior year and my senior year, I came a long way,” Williams said in the days leading up to the all-star contest. “To be recognized like this is a blessing.”
Williams labeled the all-star game a gateway to college. He’ll be playing with and against some of the top football players in North Carolina at Jamieson Stadium.
Though he was the only player from the 2014-15 Millbrook football team selected, he will see a familiar face at the game.
Wildcats football coach Clarence Inscore will be the defensive coordinator for the East team Wednesday night, with a chance to coach Williams individually as 35 players from the 2015 class attempt to mesh. They checked into practice for the game Friday.
West Johnston’s Jimmy Williams will be the head coach.
“You get an opportunity to be able to spend a little more time with a kid who’s graduated and meant so much to our program,” Inscore said of Julian Williams, who attended a Wildcats workout last week. “He’s a great leader; he’s a great kid. The kid really works hard – he always has. He knows the game of football, he loves the game of football. Passion comes through with the way he plays.”
In high school, I used my mind to my best ability. Being that I wasn’t the biggest, I had to be smarter than everybody else. I had to fit in the holes that nobody else could and use my size to my advantage.
All-Star linebacker Julian Williams
Williams laid down eight sacks, forced three fumbles and picked up one interception in his last high school season.
At Catawba, he’ll be playing safety because of his ability to roll down.
He’ll be listed as a linebacker for the all-star game.
“At his size, that’s kind of a disadvantage, I’d say, for most kids,” Inscore said. “The way he reads and the way he understands the game of football, he gets himself into the right position to make plays and he’s a big hitter. Just because he’s not big doesn’t mean he won’t bring some pain.
“His size, he doesn’t let deter him.”
Williams recorded 123 tackles and 16 tackles for loss his senior season.
“Being the smallest guy, you have to have the biggest heart,” he said. “That’s what got me to where I am.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
2015 N.C. Coaches Association East-West All-Star Games
Wednesday at 8 p.m., Jamieson Stadium in Greensboro
Christian Anumihe, Garner
Shawn Barnes Jr., E.E. Smith
Jalon Bethea, Hillside
Demetrius Blackwell, Pine Forest
Justin Blango, Knightdale
Matthew Boykin, Havelock
Raekwon Britton, Garner
Sam Campbell, West Johnston
Markus Crutchfield, Hillside
Matthew Donovan, Heritage
Anthony Evans, Fike
Aaron Farmer, Cleveland
Anthony Fisher, Havelock
Sergio Gardner, Southern Lee
Brandon Greene, Richmond
Antwone Harper, Jack Britt
Eric Hoy, Clayton
Jonas Johnson, Jack Britt
Gedari Liverman, Northeastern
Aramahs Martin, Southern Nash
Cameron Moore, Pamlico County
Eric Peartree, Washington
Emmanuel Scott, Farmville Central
Quinn Setzer, Lee County
Micah Shaw, Seventy-First
Trayon Smith, Northern Durham
Markel Spencer, Washington
Keevin Thompson, Hoggard
Calvin Trotty, Overhills
John Walker, Louisburg
Greg Washington, James Kenan
Cameron Williams, West Johnston
Jermaine Williams, Lumberton
Julian Williams, Millbrook
Jacob Wright, Ayden-Grifton