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MCGILL: Marcel Williams, Herd's Quiet Leader, Makes Noise With Play

Marcel Williams.
Nov. 11, 2017

By Chuck McGill

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Nine-year-old Marcel Williams, then a star football player in the Flagler County Police Athletic League, flashed his considerable potential more than a decade ago.

He also foreshadowed the kind of man he would grow to be.

The speedy Williams, playing for the P.A.L. Bulldogs, would take the direct snap at quarterback, tuck the ball and run up the middle. He’d make a defender miss, find open green space and shift into another gear. Same play, touchdown after touchdown, and the Bulldogs would roll. Williams’ father, Darial, guesses his son piled up nearly 50 touchdowns that season. But that isn’t what impressed Darial, a military man who fought in Desert Storm and raised his son to be respectful and humble.

It is what happened each time little Marcel crossed the goal line that caught dad’s eye.


“People would say: ‘What’s wrong with Marcel? Why isn’t he happy?” Darial recalled. “They wanted to know why he wasn’t jumping up and downs like the other kids. He would never seem excited.



“But that’s him. He loves the game, but unless you know him, you wouldn’t know it.”

Marcel Williams is now a 5-foot-10, 175-pound wide receiver for Marshall University. He is second on the team in receptions (40) and receiving yards (496), and has set a career high in receiving yards in consecutive games. He had nine catches for 92 yards and a touchdown against Florida International, and 122 yards with a career-long 59-yard reception last week against FAU. More than 40 supporters made the 250-mile trip from Williams’ hometown of Palm Coast, Florida, to Boca Raton for that game.

Spend a little time around the 21-year-old junior college transfer and one realizes that support isn’t because of the way Williams carries the ball, but it’s how he carries himself.

“He’s always been that way,” said Marcel’s mother, Ama.

Marcel is the second youngest of six children – four girls and two boys – ranging from ages 20 to 32. Darial insisted Marcel would be well-rounded, so the Herd’s dynamic slot receiver spent plenty of time fishing with his dad. Marcel plays the drums, which might be the only noise the young man makes.

“That’s who he is,” Darial said. “He’s quiet. It’s that competitive edge. When he gets into that mode, you cannot get him out of it. He is not going to be one who quits. He’s going to find way.”

Marcel Williams came to Huntington from Iowa Falls, Iowa, where he played two seasons for Ellsworth Community College. Before that he starred at Flagler-Palm Coast High School, where he played safety and caught 30 passes as a senior. He focused on offense when he made it to Ellsworth, and garnered the attention of former MU assistant Mike Furrey.

Williams came to Marshall in January, and Doc Holliday and his coaches named Williams the offensive captain at North Carolina State – the second game of the season.

“The coaches saw something in me,” Williams said. “I was being consistent and being a leader. I’m a leader in how I do things. It’s not so much how I talk to people, but it’s what I do.”

Williams has shown a penchant for making tough catches over the middle and in traffic. His 59-yard catch-and-run against FAU highlighted what he can do when he isn’t immediately met with a defender trying to jar the ball loose.

“I got to show my speed a little bit,” Williams said. “Most of the time it’s been catching the ball in a tight window. When I do get the chance, I try to make a big play and spark the offense.”

Williams started strong this season, catching 22 balls for 212 yards and one touchdown in four non-conference games. He caught five passes for 70 yards and zero touchdowns in his first three Conference USA games before breaking out against his home state schools.

“It’s a connection with me and Chase (Litton),” Williams said of his quarterback at Marshall. “The coverages and the looks I’ve seen, I know when I’m getting the ball.”

There is no flash to Williams’ game. He isn’t going to clamor for the ball, and he is a willing blocker.

“I want to win more than anything,” he said. “In basketball, I was always the guy taking charges. I’ll do whatever I can to help the team.”

Those are words that make his mother and father beam with pride, but all these years later they are no longer surprised.

“I always told Marcel growing up that if he had something to prove to somebody – do it,” Darial said. “Doing it is better than talking about it.”