Monday, April 29, 2013
Sunday, the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks drafted Brisbane, Australia native nose tackle Jesse Williams in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Going into the draft, there were some expectations by the Brisbane Times and other media outlets that Williams might be selected in the first round. Injuries, which resulted in Williams being unable to participate fully in the NFL Combine, likely were reasons why he was not selected higher.
Gridiron football is not the most popular football code in Australia, with rugby league, rugby union, soccer, and Australian rules football all being more popular participation sports. Williams’ youth sporting career reflected this, with Williams playing rugby union until he was 15 years old at which time he switched codes and joined the local gridiron team, the Bayside Ravens. A year later, his playing ability earned him a scholarship offer from the University of Hawaii. He could not meet the university’s academic standards so eventually he attended Western Arizona Community College instead. In 2011, he transferred to the University of Alabama and played for the Alabama Crimson Tide for two seasons. Both seasons, his Crimson Tide team won the national championship.
Williams’ selection is unique amongst Australians as most Australians who have played in the NFL have been kickers. He is also only the second Australian ever to be drafted in the NFL Draft.