By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Waiting for the draft to resume at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Brandon Williams attempted to cool his nerves.
Despite 45 degree temperatures, he took a midday swim in an outdoor pool.
“It was great,” he said.
After the midway point of the third round, Williams sat motionless, starting at a television set.
Then after he got the telephone call and he became a Baltimore Raven, no doubt the nerves became relief. And after numerous hugs and kisses with family and friends, Williams expressed his excitement in a tweet.
“I AM A RAVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Williams, in becoming Missouri Southern’s highest draft selection, joins not only the reigning Super Bowl champions but also the only NFL team to make the playoffs in each of the last five years.
“I always knew I could play at that talent and level,” Williams told the Baltimore media on Friday night. “I just had to prove to the NFL that I could do it. I always believe in myself every step of the way. It (Senior Bowl) just gave me an opportunity to just show my talent and show that I belong in the NFL.”
Williams certainly proved his point to the Ravens’ front office.
“He went to the Senior Bowl, and he really played well,” said Eric DeCosta, assistant general manager. “He had a really strong week of practice against Division I players, more experienced guys, and he looked like a legitimate 3-4 nose tackle.
“Jack Glowik, one our scouts, really liked him. Jack lives in Kansas City and got a lot of really good information about him, and we had a strong comfort level with him as a person and also as a player.”
Williams grabbed the attention of Ravens coach John Harbaugh another way.
“He’s not just a big guy, he’s an athlete,” Harbaugh said on ESPN. “He’s 340 pounds and can walk on his hands. We don’t need him to walk on his hands, but it’s nice to know he can.”
The pick is ... Williams
Brandon is one of 14 players drafted with the last name of Williams. All had different first names.
The biggest flurry came late in the third round when there were four Williams taken in a 21-pick span — Baylor wide receiver Terrance to Dallas at No. 74, Georgia defensive back Shawn to Cincinnati at No. 84, North Carolina offensive tackle Brennan to Houston at No. 89 and MSSU defensive tackle Brandon to Baltimore at No. 94.
Many Missouri Southern fans watching the draft likely began to cheer when the name “Brennan Williams” appeared on the screen. But minutes later, they did see “Brandon Williams” and they did cheer.
Williams becomes the third player from an MIAA school to be selected in the third round of the draft, joining Pittsburg State defensive back Darryl Wren (1991 draft by Buffalo) and Northwest Missouri State tackle Seth Wand (2003 by Houston).
No MIAA players have been taken in the first or second rounds.
Three MIAA picks
Williams, the No. 94 pick overall, was the first of three MIAA players taken in this year’s draft.
In the seventh round Missouri Western defensive end David Bass was selected by the Oakland Raiders (No. 233), and Northeastern State offensive tackle Michael Bowie was taken by the Seattle Seahawks (No. 242).
A total of 63 Southeastern Conference players were chosen — SEC East 31, SEC West 31.
Next was the ACC 31, Pac-12 28, Big 12 and Big Ten 22 and Big East 18.
Twenty-one of the 73 underclassmen who declared themselves eligible for the draft were not picked, including Arkansas guard Alvin Bailey, Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson and OU linebacker Tom Wort.