It’s not the path he chose, and it hasn’t been an easy path. But Albion College is the new home of Darrin Williams, Detroit senior.
“I’m kind of a roll with the punches type [of] guy,” Williams said. “[It’s] been a pretty smooth transition.”
Williams fits into the Briton’s offense seamlessly. In his first start, Williams rushed for 260 yards and 1 touchdown versus Kalamazoo College on Oct. 13, earning himself MIAA offensive player of the week. Williams remained hungry and earned another MIAA offensive player of the week award in the following week after racking up 185 rushing yards, 76 receiving yards, and 2 total touchdowns against Alma College.
However, before Williams burst onto the MIAA scene, he started his college football career at the University of Cincinnati. Huge expectations followed Williams after he graduated from Michigan high school football power Martin Luther King in Detroit. Unfortunately, injuries plagued his two years at Cincinnati.
“After bouncing back from the injury, [Cincinnati] wasn’t the best place for me due to a number of reasons,” Williams said.
Williams started exploring multiple options this past summer and narrowed his decision to Ferris State University. One day before Williams was to report to camp, the coaches called him and informed him of a “first time transfer” rule. Essentially, Williams would have been forced to sit out a season by the NCAA because he had been enrolled at Cincinnati for less than eight semesters.
That’s when Albion came into the picture.
“I went to high school with Chris Greenwood and Charles Young, heard about the good program that Albion had, and the rest was history.”
Coming from a division I program, Williams did have some adjustments to make. Cincinnati paid for his tuition, gave him big bowl game experiences, and provided him with a lot of gear that smaller division III schools cannot afford.
Williams remained humble, though, throughout the whole transferring process. Williams said the transition was made easier by the relationship he developed with running back Clinton Orr, Buchanan senior.
“He reached out to me when he heard I was coming and welcomed me; he was the first to welcome me,” Williams said. “He’s a great guy. It’s like we’ve been friends a lot longer. We can relate on a lot of levels with kind of the same goals and abilities. He’s been here four years and I respect what he has done. I’m the new guy and he’s showing me the ropes.”
Williams’s roommate Antonio Pacifico, Harrison Township junior, agrees that Williams has made a smooth transition from a large school to a small school.
“I think he’s handled [the transition] well,” Pacifico said. “I mean obviously [division] one to [division] three is a big step.”
Williams’s patience and perseverance paid off for him halfway through the season when he took over the starting running back role due to a foot injury sustained by Orr in the fifth week of the season.
“I actually wish [Orr] could be playing,” Williams said. “I hate to see a competitor such as himself not be able to do what he loves. When it was both of us I knew I had a counter part that would deliver and come through big if I wasn’t clicking that day.”
However, Williams did not dwell on what he could not control. After waiting four years to have a shot at being a starting running back, he took the opportunity by storm.
“It’s been a long and adverse four years,” Williams said. “I feel like it has prepared me for this moment. I am very humbled and thankful for this opportunity.”
Although Williams will not be playing on a big stage at the division I level, his ultimate goal remains unchanged: get the attention of NFL scouts. With scouts already watching Orr, Williams has taken advantage of the opportunity to get noticed. He has already had conversations with a few scouts.
“[Orr] has opened doors for me as well as I continue my journey to the next level,” Williams said. “Since I missed two years due to injury they’re working on getting me an extra year of eligibility, so I can come back next year and that will help me continue my journey.”
What a journey it’s been.
Photo Courtesy of Albion College Sports Information