ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- During eight-hour days at a radiator factory,
As he watched college football players excel on Saturdays, players similar to his 6-foot-3, 300-plus-pound frame, he started to believe more and more that he had what it took to continue his football career.
So he drove to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas to ask the coach for a spot on the team.
"That's when I told myself I was going to start a new life," he said.
He came to Coffeyville with a renewed focus on football and schoolwork, and eventually earned all-conference and honorable-mention All-America honors.
From there, he received a scholarship to the University of North Carolina and excelled in his two seasons as a Tar Heel, completing his path from a factory worker to a first-round draft pick.
"I've been trying to for the last 12 hours figure to out how I got to this point, but I think it’s just all from dedication, hard work and working hard every day, which I’ll continue to do," Williams said.
When he got the call from Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway and Head Coach John Fox that he was headed to Denver, Williams was overcome by emotion.
But the joy quickly turned to panic.
"I actually lost service, so I was asking for somebody to give me a phone because I wanted to call them back," he recalled. "I didn’t want to not get picked because I couldn’t answer the phone (laughs)."
But Williams' worries subsided when he saw NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell call his name from the podium in Radio City Music Hall. Next all he had to do was get out from under a celebratory pile of his family members to call the Broncos back.
"Coming here last week on my visit I knew that I had a really strong connection with these guys and its somewhere I wanted to be," he said. "So when the opportunity came and the Broncos took me, I couldn’t even talk because I was so happy to be here."
"For me it was like, ‘Wow, everything I’ve ever worked for, this is what it’s (come) to.’"
Williams' journey will continue to inspire him every day, he said, along with his family -- particularly his father, who raised four children by himself.
"I’m going to continue to work hard every day and grind and continue to think about football every day," he said. "I eat, drink and sleep football, and I’m going to continue to do that. I want to come in right now and help this team any way I can. Anyway I can I want to help them win.”
And the Broncos couldn't be happier.
"We’ve been looking for a young anchor on the inside for a long, long time and we really believe we have found him here with Sylvester Williams," Elway said.