• WHAT: Blue Grey National All-Star Classic
• WHERE: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
• WHEN: Saturday, 5 p.m. (PST)
• TV: Fox Sports Florida
T.J. Williams caught just 13 passes during East Union’s Cinderella 2010 football season.
Not long after, he caught a break.
He received a packet at school one day, an invitation to begin a multi-step process culminating in the inaugural Blue-Grey National All-Star Classic at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And that is where the 6-foot-2, 175-pound receiver will be this Saturday to showcase his talents. He earned a spot on the North team and is among 90 prospects hoping to further expose their skills to collegiate scouts and coaches.
The game will broadcast live on Fox Sports Florida starting at 5 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time).
“I just want to go out there, do the best I can and see what happens,” Williams said. “I’m going to live it to the fullest and have fun. I can’t wait.”
Williams and three other Mantecans — schoolmate Tyler Hardesty along with Eric Ceja and Joe Trout, both of Manteca High — participated in the Blue-Grey Northern California Combine at Kezar Stadium last April, one of eight regional combines held nationwide.
Williams and Trout earned invites to the Super Combine hosted at the NFL Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio last June. Williams’ numbers compared favorably with other receivers: 4.65-second 40-yard dash, 9-6 broad jump, 31-5 vertical leap and 4.57 seconds in the shuttle.
“I got to see how I compare at a national level and gave me a chance to see where I need to improve,” Williams said. “It’s crazy. I high school I knew I was all right, but seeing these guys who already look like NFL players made me realize that I need to do better. It’s a whole other level, a whole other world.”
A raw athlete his junior year, Williams caught 13 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns for East Union’s newly-implemented spread offense that fueled the squad’s first berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs since 1992.
This past fall he blossomed, tallying 55 receptions, 848 yards and an area-high 14 touchdowns, though his breakout senior season was masked somewhat by the team’s 1-9 record. Williams displayed improved route running, pass-catching ability and routinely made acrobatic plays. His best single-game effort came at Weston Ranch on Oct. 7, when he caught 11 passes for 199 yards and four scores in a 42-36 loss.
Williams is no longer flying under the radar since shining at the Blue-Grey combines. Xavier, Montana State, Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Northern Arizona are among the many to have expressed interest. His solid 3.50 grade point average has also helped.
The Blue-Grey all-stars will meet for practice Thursday and Friday afternoon.
“I wasn’t getting any looks, so it helped a lot,” Williams said. “Education is everything, so if I get that scholarship it’s all the better.”