Rocklin receiver to play at Humboldt State

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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His size was not mentioned when Nick Williams paid a visit to Humboldt State University and met with head football coach Rob Smith. The Rocklin High School senior took that as a good sign. Smith measured Williams by his productivity as a wide receiver than by feet and inches. When Smith offered a scholarship, the 5-10 Williams signed a letter of intent to play for the Lumberjacks. The Thunder will have a signing ceremony for Williams on Friday, just as the school did last month for Jimmy Laughrea when the quarterback signed his letter of intent to play at Boise State. Humboldt State is a far cry from Boise State, but Williams is not complaining. He had not received an offer from any college until Smith called one day and invited Williams to visit the Arcata campus. “I liked the campus and coaching staff,” Williams said. “Everything seemed right. I fell in love with everything.” Most of all, Williams appreciated being recruited for what he has rather than knocked for what he lacks. “I talked to other schools, but no one was offering any money. They talked about me walking on,” he said. “Oregon State saw my numbers, but they didn’t want me when they saw me in person. “They didn’t say it to my face, but I knew what they meant.” Oregon State was no longer interested in a receiver who ranked among California’s best during the 2010 season. Williams tied for sixth in the state with 83 receptions, according to “It doesn’t matter how big you are or how fast you are,” Rocklin head coach Greg Benzel said during the season. “Nick knows how to get it done. Nick represents Rocklin football to the fullest.” Williams was Laughrea’s top target, with his 1,241 receiving yards accounting for nearly half of Laughrea’s 2,527 passing yards. None of his teammates had half as many catches as Williams did. “His numbers jumped off the (computer) screen,” Smith said Monday. “That’s the most important thing.” Beyond statistics, Smith pursued Williams because of the intangibles that coaches are always seeking. “We’d all love to have the 6-4 or 6-5 guy, but we recruit players in all shapes and sizes,” Smith said. “(Williams is) not a big guy, but sometimes you have to look at what beats inside a kid’s chest.” Williams’ heart might as well be shaped like a football. He decided to play as a freshman in high school even after being cut from Granite Oaks Middle School’s flag football team as an eighth-grader. “I get really mad when someone says I’m too small. I’m tired of hearing that all the time,” he said. “I remember all the people who have doubted me and I take that vengeance out on the field.” That fire fueled Williams during his workouts with Laughrea last summer. Williams was determined to prove he could be a reliable receiver after catching just seven passes for 136 yards as a junior. The two are training together again these days as they prepare for the next chapters of their careers. “I owe (Laughrea) a lot of credit,” Williams said, “for all the extra time we put into it.”