Mike Williams quickly finds home with Huskers after humbling junior college experience
LINCOLN — When you transfer in from “Last Chance U,” everyone recognizes the logo.
“People find out, like, I have a couple of East Mississippi (Community College) jackets and I wear it sometimes and people always ask me: Was I on the show?”
Mike Williams, a smiley 5-foot-10, 175-pound wide receiver, wasn’t featured in the famous Netflix documentary about the juco powerhouse. He missed it by one year.
“But I wasn’t there for that,” he said after practice on Tuesday. “I was there to succeed and help the team and get where I wanted to go. Which is here.”
Williams transferred from EMCC to Nebraska in January and is already being mentioned by coaches as someone who could be key in the offense next fall.
Originally from Lake City, Florida, Williams committed to Georgia Southern out of high school. After one season with three catches for 27 yards, he decided he needed something new.
“We were doing spring workouts at Georgia Southern — we hadn’t actually started spring ball — and it was just something told me that there was something greater out there for me,” he said.
When East Mississippi found out that Williams was thinking about transferring, the EMCC recruiting director shot Williams a direct message on Twitter. A few months later, he was in Scooba, Mississippi.
“Yeah, it’s like, really nothing to do,” Williams said. “It’s two gas stations and a Subway and a Dollar General. That’s pretty much it.”
But he put up numbers that had Division I schools calling.
En route to a juco national title, Williams caught 30 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during the Lions’ 11-1 season. He led the team in receptions and averaged 23.2 yards per catch.
That got the attention of Nebraska coaches.
On the morning of Jan. 7, one day before Nebraska’s spring semester began, Scott Frost called Williams and offered a scholarship. Three days later, Williams was enrolled on campus.
“It was a quick process,” Williams said. “The day I got here I had to start school the next day, so I got here that Wednesday and I had to start school that Thursday. But right now I have all A’s and one B.”
With Williams, Nebraska adds another offensive weapon to its growing arsenal at wide receiver. He joins Tyjon Lindsey and JD Spielman as receivers who can fill in the slot, or can slip into the “Duck-R” position, which takes handoffs from the backfield.
Frost has liked what he’s seen.
“Mike came in here and went to work in the weight room,” Frost said. “And today’s the first day — and I think he’s indicative of some other guys — I really saw him start to cut it loose. Instead of not really being sure of where you’re going or how you’re doing it, I saw him just go today and he looked like a different guy.”
Williams said he feels comfortable in this new system under Frost. It’s a bit faster than the EMCC offense, as is practice. But he likes it. And coaches are already dreaming of what they can do with him.
“Mike reminds me of myself,” offensive coordinator Troy Walters said. “Undersized. Great work ethic. Runs great routes. Has great speed, can catch the ball. We’re going to utilize him in the slot, create mismatches on linebackers and safeties.”
Williams said Mississippi humbled him. You leave junior college appreciating the game more, he said. And at Nebraska, he’s ready for another shot.
“Yeah, it’s getting better every day,” Williams said. “Nebraska is definitely a special place. I just feel like I connect with the players here better. It’s more of a family atmosphere, of course because of the coaches and the players. Just feels like home.”