Former Vaq Drafted by Panthers

Alex Campos

Although there may not be an NFL season due to the lockout, former GCC lineman Zach Williams’ NFL career has started.

Williams, who was an All-American at GCC in 2008, heard his named called at the NFL draft on April 30.

Williams was the 203rd pick in the draft, the seventh choice by the Carolina Panthers.

Williams, the 6 foot 3 inch 309-pound center who played at Washington State, has been seen as a nice pick by the Panthers. The pick analysis labeled Williams as a “guy with a mean streak who could develop into something in the NFL.”

Williams greatly benefitted from an impressive workout at the NFL Scouting Combine. Every February, the NFL invites draft prospects to Indianapolis to partake in drills and tests.

Williams was in the top 10 of all linemen in the 20-yard shuttle, 3-cone drill and bench press. He ran a 5.29 40-yard sprint, which was tied for 13th among linemen.

His former coach, John Cicuto, is now the head athletic director at GCC. He was more than happy about Williams’ selection.

“I was really excited about Williams being drafted,” said Cicuto. “He is probably one of the best linemen we’ve had at GCC in the last 20 or so years. I watched a couple of his games on TV, against USC and UCLA. I felt back then, in October, that he had a good chance to make it to the NFL.”

Cicuto also praised Williams off the field.

“He was a young man that came to us and did a great job academically, allowing him to get his associates degree and transfer to Washington State. In his two years here, he progressed greatly from freshman year to sophomore year. I had him projected to be an All-American, which is not easy to do. And he was unanimously voted an All-American.”

As for the draft, Cicuto said “I was not surprised at all that he was drafted. In fact, I would have been disappointed if he wasn’t.”

Current football players are also inspired by Williams’ story.

“I am so proud to be at the school where an NFL offensive lineman went,” said freshman lineman Sam Campbell. “I am inspired because since this has happened I have so much hope that I will hear my name called at the Draft just like Zach did. I think he is an awesome man of character and so much talent. He is one of the many reasons that I am proud to be at GCC. Because of him, I have so much more confidence that I am going to achieve my goal.”

Williams is the first Washington State player drafted since 2008, and the first former Vaquero drafted since 1992. He is the only current NFL player from GCC, although Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid and Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson are also former GCC football players.

Williams played both center and guard at Washington State. He is expected to compete for the starting right guard position when football season resumes.

Williams did not return requests for an interview.