By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Brandon Williams was hit by a big dose of reality on Tuesday night.
“Actually I had insomnia,” he said. “I had to get in my truck and just drive around, get my mind straight, my thoughts in order.”
After weeks of physical and verbal auditions for National Football League teams, Williams will learn where his professional football career will begin as the 78th annual draft runs today through Saturday in New York City.
“I’m literally about to be in the NFL in a couple of days,” he said. “I’m actually going to know where I’m going, but the craziest thing is being in limbo right now. I really don’t know what’s going on, where I’m going to be, where I’m going to live.
“It doesn’t scare me, but I’m anxious to know. Usually all my life has been structured. I knew what was going on and what I was going to do, but now ... they have my destiny in their hands. They have my future in their hands, and I’m excited to see where it takes me.”
Wiiliams, Missouri Southern’s three-time All-America defensive tackle, has been projected to be taken somewhere in the first four rounds in mock drafts during recent weeks. Some mock drafts have had him going in the first round at No. 24 to Indianapolis or No. 31 to San Francisco.
“I looked at some a little bit, but I don’t pay that much attention,” he said.
Since his participation in the Senior Bowl in January and the NFL Combine in February, Williams has made trips to St. Louis and Charlotte to visit with personnel from the Rams and Carolina Panthers. Some other teams, including the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina, have come to Joplin.
“Some teams have shown more interest than others,” Williams said. “But with the draft, you never know. There could be a team that you never talked to quite a bit, and they could pull you right out and say we want you here. There are teams that don’t want to show their cards. They have a game plan, a scheme to get the players they want. You never really know until your name is called.”
Williams said he believed an NFL career could become a reality after his junior year with the Lions.
“After my second All-America honor, that’s when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and it said NFL,” Williams said. “I knew I had a chance to get there one day.”
Williams said he’s watched the NFL Draft every year, but naturally he will pay more attention this year.
“Mostly the first round, and then a little bit in the second and third,” he said. “Usually that third day you just go off and do your own thing. You just want to see the big names go.
“But now I’m one of those guys, so I’m definitely going to be watching now.”