MCGILL: Ulmer Shows Skills as Lineman, Musician|
Oct. 5, 2017
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – On the football field, Will Ulmer worries about defensive lineman and protecting the quarterback.
Off the field, well, look no further than his wrist. He sports the “lack of worries” bracelet on his arm, an accessory that symbolizes Ulmer away from the gridiron. He is a self-proclaimed country boy who wears his weathered hat backwards and loves his jeans and boots.
He can also play guitar and sing. Country tunes, of course.
“Will has legit skills,” said Levi Brown, Marshall’s starting center. “I can’t play worth a lick and I can’t sing, but we’ll sit around for hours at a time and listen and play music.”
This is not a well-kept secret. Ulmer has posted videos of himself playing and singing on his social media accounts. Occasionally, teammates will gather around him and sing while he strums the strings of his guitar.
“It’s like a stress reliever for me,” Ulmer said. “I just try to have fun with it.”
Somehow, though, the 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman flips a switch on the field. Ulmer, a redshirt freshman, has played in all four of Marshall’s games and could be in line for his first career start this Saturday at Charlotte.
Ulmer is versatile enough to play several positions along the line, but held down the left tackle spot for the majority of the game in last Saturday’s win at Cincinnati after A.J. Addison departed with an injury. Addison has started two games at left tackle since Sandley Jean-Felix went down with an injury after starting the first two games of the season.
“I’ve been playing football for as long as I can remember,” Ulmer said. “When I was little my dad wanted me to play, so I did and I fell in love with it.”
Ulmer has been a lineman for as long as he can remember. He started in flag football and continued to grow. There were never any ambitions of trying a skill position.
“If you were over a certain weight they put duct tape on your helmet saying you weren’t allowed to run the ball,” Ulmer said. “I always had the duct tape.”
He received scholarship offers from Charlotte, Middle Tennessee, Ohio, Ball State and Toledo as a standout at Kentucky’s Madison Central High School. He was rated a three-star prospect before he chose Marshall as his college destination.
Now, after redshirting last season, Ulmer has become a contributor on a youthful offensive line. In addition to Brown, the Herd has played freshmen Tarik Adams and Alex Mollette, in addition to Ulmer, for significant stretches. Adams and Mollette have been starters.
Ulmer has always been a country boy. He was born in Kentucky before moving to Cairo, Georgia, as a child. He lived there until he was about 5 years old before returning to Kentucky. He lived most of his life in Richmond, Kentucky.
He first picked up a guitar when he was about 8 years old, inspired by an uncle. He took lessons for about a year to learn the basics, but then set out on his own and considers himself largely a self-taught player.
Ulmer’s personal favorites: Hank Williams Jr. and George Strait.
“You have to like the classics,” he said.
Ulmer said his roommate, Mollette, might get tired of the constant playing and singing, but it helps him downshift after colliding with other 300-pounders on the football field. That’s where he finds peace.
“That’s who I am,” Ulmer said. “Everything I do I try to find the good in it.”