Eyes up: What lies ahead for GVSU’s esteemed former quarterback

GVL / Emily Frye
Bart Williams scans the field for an open target in 2017.

GVL / Emily Frye Bart Williams scans the field for an open target in 2017.

Brady McAtamney

Making the jump from being a collegiate athlete to one who plays a sport professionally is difficult. In fact, there are an estimated 12,650 NCAA football players in Division I alone, and there is only room for 1,664 players on a National Football League roster, meaning that less than 13 percent of Division I guys will be in the NFL come September. 

Then you get to Division II, where the chances are even slimmer. Bart Williams is the next man up looking to defy the normality and follow in the footsteps of former Brandon Carr and Matthew Judon and become an NFL player.

The Grand Valley State quarterback threw for 2,556 yards and 21 touchdowns in his senior season, leading the team to a 2018 playoff berth. During the season, he eclipsed school records in most touchdowns and pass yards for a career – no small feat for a program built on greatness. 

But making it to the NFL is no small feat, either. Williams knows that getting a spot on the grand stage is difficult and that keeping it is even more so, especially for a quarterback: most teams carry no more than three on their active roster, meaning there are never more than 100 QBs in the league at any given time. 

To prepare, Williams has worked, worked and worked to make sure his body and mind are in pristine shape so that he is good to go should a team call upon his services.

“I started (working out) hardcore in January… I did a lot of weight lifting and then just some very simple fundamentals for the pro day tests — the shuttles, the 40, the jumps, stuff like that so I was just doing some fundamental stuff like that,” Williams said.

“Then I went to Chicago (and) I wasn’t in the weight room at all. I was mostly with a quarterback coach, throwing a lot of balls and then I had a guy I was going to, we did a lot of plyometric stuff. I didn’t lift many weights but I was doing a lot of movement, just working at reactions and top end speed. I was supposed to do that for four weeks but I actually got invited to the Central Michigan pro day which was a week before the Grand Valley pro day so I was only there for three weeks and I’ve been here since.”

Williams’ hard work figures to pay off as he has received interest from the Detroit Lions, who he is hopeful to work with in minicamps come summer. 

Should the NFL not come to fruition, though, he has backup plans. 

“This weekend I’m flying down to Florida doing like a free agent minicamp with the Saskatchewan RoughRiders in the CFL,” Williams said. “I’ll have a chance to show myself in front of their head coach and offensive coordinator and quarterback coach and stuff and might even have the opportunity to get a contract in the works after this weekend.”

While an opportunity to play in the NFL would trump all – like one would expect – the quarterback is excited to have an opportunity to play with a northern neighbor as the widely acclaimed league has housed talents including Doug Flutie, Jeff Garcia, Brandon Browner and Stefan Logan. 

With the NFL Draft beginning on Thursday, April 25 and running through that Saturday, Williams’ future should be coming into view soon.