For the first time since childhood, Eastern Washington University graduate Grant Williams won’t put on football pads this fall.
Williams, who graduated from Rogers High School in 2008 and played outside linebacker for the past five years at Eastern Washington in Cheney, will make the leap to coaching this year. He recently was hired as the linebackers coach at the University of Puget Sound, an NCAA Division III school in Tacoma.
Williams played as a redshirt sophomore for Eastern Washington in 2010, when the Eagles won the Football Championship Subdivision national championship.
The Herald recently asked Williams about the transition to becoming a coach.
The Herald: What is it like not putting on the pads this year?
Grant Williams: It’s crazy. I still have a lot of friends who are playing college football. My body is ready to go and play. It’s go time right now. I have been conditioned for so long at the end of August to crank it up and be playing. It hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m not playing this year. Once the college football season officially kicks off and the NFL regular season begins, I know it will be a different feeling. I’m bracing for it right now.
TH: How did you land the job, coaching linebackers for the University of Puget Sound?
GW: At the end of my final season in college last year, I was kind of up in the air with what I wanted to do next. At our team banquet, coach Beau Baldwin told me I was a smart kid who would make a good coach. I took those words to heart. After I finished my last few quarters of school, I heard about the job opening at UPS. I applied, and UPS head coach Jeff Thomas called me back, and the rest is history.
TH: How would you best describe your coaching style?
GW: I get pumped up when a good play happens, and I definitely like to let my guys know how passionate about the game I am. I’m also the youngest coach on the staff (23), and I like to joke around with the guys during the stretch lines and have a good time. I like to bring a lot of energy and get my point across to the players.
TH: What is like being a coach compared to being a college football player?
GW: When you’re a player, you prepare yourself mentally and physically for practice with your teammates. You always have to be ready to go and do what the coaches tell you to do. It is something you get used to since you were a kid. As a coach, there is a lot of organizational aspects that need to get accomplished. You have to come up with the practice plan and structure meetings so every player knows exactly what is expected of them.
TH: You played at the NCAA FCS level. How much different is the game at the NCAA Division III level?
GW: As far as talent wise, there is obviously better athletes at the D-I level, but as far as playing the game, there is really no difference between D-I and D-III. These guys (UPS players) are out here, playing the game hard and are flying around, trying to make plays. They are great football players.
TH: Where do you see yourself in five years in the coaching world?
GW: I can definitely see myself still coaching. At what level, I have no idea, and really couldn’t tell you what will happen in the future. Right now, I’m excited about the opportunity to coach at UPS and am looking forward to being part of a great program.