Through The Eyes of a Father: Brent Williams
By Michael Chung
What goes through a father’s mind when he is about to watch his son’s first football game? What perspective do parents have on the inside of Ohio State football? The media attention usually goes to the head coach and players but what about the families of the kids who take the field every Saturday?
In this series, Through the Eyes of a Father, Brent Williams offers Buckeye Nation a unique perspective on Ohio’s favorite football team.
Williams grew up in Michigan and played 11 seasons in the NFL – mainly with the New England Patriots. His oldest son, Brennan, is an offensive lineman at North Carolina, while his middle child, Camren, and godson, Armani Reeves are freshmen at Ohio State.
The eyes of Brent Williams should offer a perspective unlike any from players and coaches.
It would seem that for Brent Williams, the start of a football game would be nothing new. He played college football at the University of Toledo, had a long NFL career and his oldest son is a senior at UNC.
Game days for Williams are not something new, but the former NFL defensive end was elated during his first Ohio State game, calling it “surreal.”
“There is a tremendous passion in the state of Ohio for football and Ohio State,” Williams told The-Ozone.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“Having a son and godson in this environment was amazing for them and for me as a father. I had to miss my older son’s season-opener, but he understood that we needed to be at OSU for Cam and Armani’s first game.”
A father’s mind often goes through many things before major events. For Brent Williams, he was thinking way back when Camren and Armani were 7th graders – not college freshmen like they are now – and came to Ohio State for Camren’s older brother’s Ohio State football camp.
Memories began to flood this father’s mind.
“I was remembering how Cam and Armani use to run around the stadium, up and down the stairs as 7th graders,” he said.
“They came to OSU for Brennan’s camp, now they were about to run out onto the field (as players).”
Time flies, and now his boys are grown men establishing themselves in the world. This father, who once protected these boys, now must let go and allow them to be their own persons.
Cam and Armani had their doubters. Playing football in Massachusetts, where baseball and hockey often take precedent, is not the same to some as playing in Florida, Texas, California and even Ohio. Brent told his boys not to let this criticism get to them, but to use it as motivation to prove these doubters wrong and add ethos to Massachusetts high school football.
Still, the stinging words from football pundits can hit a father’s heart hard, many times harder than the players.
Photo by Dan Harker
“Cam and Armani are driven to prove the doubters wrong,” Brent Williams said.
“Which made seeing them run on the field for the first time even more emotional.”
One would think being banned from the B1G championship and a bowl game would bring a more relaxed atmosphere for the football team. Why pound these guys into the ground? But Williams was impressed by how the coaching staff keeps the foot to the pedal and are instilling in his boys the need to compete and be champions.
“These coaches want to win right now and they are building into the boys a championship mentality.” Williams said.
“They want kids to compete, remember the ESPN All Access Show? How they turned drinking Gatorade into a competition? They were trying to teach the team the need to stay hydrated but they turned it into a contest.”
Williams went on to say, “The end result is that you build tough competitors who believe they are invincible. Everyday they are competing, they feel they have something to prove.”
Many are wondering whether or not Urban Meyer’s quote of wanting an angry team is for real or just (pun intended) an Urban Legend. In the words of Brent’s boys, “the ‘Urban Meyer Angry Football Team’ quote is FOR REAL.” The boys are experiencing it on a regular basis.
What did Meyer say to the team before his first game?
“Cam mentioned to me that coach Meyer is a master motivator during the week. He was expecting another motivational speech. What the team got was something more mellow,” Brent Williams shared.
“Coach Meyer just reminded them of who they were, who their coaches were, what they have worked for, how far they have come in a short time, and all the work they have already put in.”
Maybe Meyer is saving his war speech for the National Championship game in 2013?
The game kicked off. Armani told his godfather he was upset on one play. He fielded a kick-off and felt he could have taken it all the way if he would have made a move. But he didn’t. Cam played a little bit, but because of Miami’s passing attack, the Mike linebacker was not an integral part of Ohio State’s defense in week one.
After the game the boys were hungry and were rewarded with a dinner at Texas Roadhouse. What did coach Meyer say before they left the locker room?
“Not a lot,” Williams said.
“We started a little sluggish but got our feet underneath us; we were more comfortable with the system. The more we work, the more we will improve and the better we will be.”
Nothing too earth shattering, in fact, somewhat Tressel-esque.
It was also the debut for Luke Fickell as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator. He was the head coach last season, and a co-defensive coordinator since 2005, but Williams believes the transition to Urban Meyer assistant has been a smooth one for everyone involved.
“Coach Fickell is an Ohio State guy through and through, he is an alum and bleeds Scarlet and Gray,” Brent Williams said.
“He is so detailed and focused and wants these group of linebackers to be great. He knows the tradition of linebackers at Ohio State and works very hard to make this group measure up.”
And how does this former NFL defensive lineman and father think about the job coach Meyer and staff are doing? Having been under several head coaches himself, an author of a book helping players and parents during the recruiting process, he will certainly not be fooled by any charlatan.
“When I dropped off my boys to Ohio State, I told the coaches that I do not expect them to come back to me the same,” Williams said of Camren and Armani, who he considers to be a member of the family.
“I want to get back an improved version.”
Has the staff delivered so far, or was Urban Meyer just trying to pull the wool over his eyes during recruiting when he landed commitments Camren and Armani, two players who were likely going to end up at Penn State before the fiasco in State College.
“I think the coaches have done a fantastic job in motivating and challenging the boys not to settle but be the best they can be,” Williams goes on to say.
“They will never allow the team to be comfortable and coast and will never be satisfied unless the team is getting better. The coaches are very proud from where the team has come but they have clearly communicated that there is a long way to go.”
Sounds like Urban and company are doing a really good job so far. We will see as the season progresses.
*Brent Williams is a former NFL defensive lineman and father to three boys in college football: Brennan (UNC), Camren (OSU), and godson Armani (OSU). His daughter will also play NCAA basketball in 2015. He is the author of “RECRUIT MY SON,” a book to help parents and players through the recruiting process.