Marcus Williams Jr. decided to play a fifth year of football. That's why he's at La Tech

Ethan Sands
Monroe News-Star

RUSTON - It was never a matter of when Marcus Williams Jr. would be successful but where. 

Williams,  a graduate transfer from NC State, has made an immediate impact since joining Louisiana Tech, but it has been a long journey to get to this point.

Ever since the sandbox days, Williams stood out amongst his peers. He was not the tallest, but he used his speed and strength to outmatch his friends in backyard football of his hometown of Rocky Mountain, North Carolina. 

Williams started playing youth football at 10 and quickly realized he had a gift. He could break off long runs and evade defenders in ways his peers could not.

But it was on a regular school night in the eighth grade when Williams found a motivational video that would change everything for him. Eric Thomas was the narrator for "How Bad Do You Want It"  and Williams learned that schools were offering scholarships to play football. 

"I just knew I was going to make it. I knew I was going to be on TV to play ball, but I never knew what a scholarship was,” Williams said. “So, I was just searching YouTube and came over Eric Thomas, and I was like 'This is what I want to do' and I went out and did it.” 

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Oct 19, 2019; Boone, NC, USA; Appalachian State Mountaineers running back Marcus Williams Jr. (26) runs around end against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks in thef first quarter at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The road to Appalachian State

The 5-foot-10, 204-pound Williams was rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports in 2016 at SouthWest Edgecombe. He was named Eastern conference Plains MVP,  Wilson Daily Times Offensive MVP,  Rocky Mount Telegram area MVP his senior season rushing for 2,379 yards and 36 touchdowns and catching nine passes for 210 yards and two more scores.

With a decent resume, his goal shifted from all of Division I to Power Five  schools only. He received offers from Duke and North Carolina. However, Williams took his time making his decision, and in doing so, other recruits quickly took the scholarship offers still available and the rest seemingly disappeared.

Williams ended up committing to Appalachian State in Boone, North Carolina. It turned out to be a pretty good match.

Appalachian State won the Camellia Bowl his first season when he was redshirted. Williams would have a role in the next four bowl victories and two Sun Belt Championship game wins in 2018 and 2019.

Williams' favorite moment with Appalachian State was when he bulldozed his way through a pile of Louisiana Ragin' Cajun defenders into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown in the Sun Belt Championship Game in 2018. 

Williams rushed for more than 500 yards in each of his four seasons, finishing  with 2,216 rushing yards with 14 touchdowns. 

Louisiana Tech grauate senior running back Marcus Williams Jr. (26) lines up for a play during spring practice.

Journey continues in Ruston with Bulldogs

After graduating, Williams took a leap of faith after the his 2020 season ended and decided that he still had some football left in him after the NCAA granted athletes an additional year because of COVID-19. Williams entered the transfer portal on Jan. 4 and was quickly picked up by Louisiana Tech just 12 days later.

"I feel like, at the end of the day, (transferring is) going to be worth it,” Williams said. “So far, my journey has been great, and I feel like there's a whole bunch of success ahead going into NC State and into conference play." 

Williams will get to show how well he’s adapted to his new offense and the Bulldogs (2-2) on Saturday (5 p.m., ESPN+/ACC Network Extra)  against NC State (3-1). 

"I couldn't be more excited that he's part of our program right now,” La Tech coach Holtz said. “He is the number one tailback, he's earned it, he deserves it. I think he is a role model for the younger guys in the room to look at and emulate as they move forward because there's a reason he's been successful everywhere he's been."

Williams has rushed for 258 yards on 61 carries and two scores while contributing as a receiver with seven catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. 

"He does the extra things that it takes to be great,” Holtz said. “I've been really impressed with his maturity, with his discipline, with his hard work and we know he has talent."

Williams will have a lot  of family and friends in attendance at Carter-Finley Stadium, admitting that he will need about 20 extra tickets. 

"Transferred here, and I had to battle for this position; it's great that everyone counts on me,” Williams said. “Just to be a leader is amazing; it's good pressure on me to win and do my best to get the win." 

There's always room for improvement, and Williams is aware of that. 

"Things I have to work on, I always say my overall game,” Williams said. “I always work on everything because I want to be the total package as far as a running back." 

If the NFL dream doesn't pan out, Williams has other passions that he can lean on. 

"(I have) Bigger goals. Get married one day, have a family. Maybe a coaching job and doing real estate, if I can be able to balance that,” Williams said. "Coaching job, so I can touch other players that came from areas like me, whether strength and condition or a position coach. 

"I just love the comradery with football. If I'm able to continue to do that in some way, I'd love to do that."