Williams to enter NFL Draft

Redshirt sophomore tight end Maxx Williams will forego his final two years of eligibility at Minnesota.

Grant Donald

After weeks of discussion with family, coaches and former teammates, Gophers tight end Maxx Williams announced Friday that he will enter the 2015 NFL Draft instead of returning to the University of Minnesota for his junior season.

The decision comes less than 24 hours after the Gophers lost to No. 16 Missouri 33-17 in the Citrus Bowl, where Williams racked up 98 receiving yards including a highlight reel 54-yard touchdown.

“You always come into college football dreaming of playing in the NFL,” Williams said. “Last night I really sat down with my parents one last time and said, ‘you know what, this is right for me and it is time to go.’ I made the decision and I’m going to run with it and can’t look back now.”

Williams had a breakout year for Minnesota, finishing the season with 569 yards and eight touchdowns — both single-season records for Gophers’ tight ends.

The Waconia, Minn., native also hauled in 36 receptions over the course of the year which was an astonishing 18 more catches then anyone else on the team.

“We appreciate all that Maxx and his family have done for the program,” head coach Jerry Kill said in a statement Friday. “Maxx has been an integral part in laying the foundation for our program and has helped move our team forward.”

Last month Williams submitted his name to the NFL’s college advisory committee to gauge which round he would be selected in.

The board, comprised of general managers, scouting combine directors and player personnel directors from NFL teams, decided that Williams would “conservatively go in the top three [rounds].”

“You can’t worry about where you get drafted,” Williams said. “If you get drafted in the seventh round, you made your dream. You made the NFL and you got drafted. I could get drafted in the first round; I could get drafted in the seventh round, it doesn’t matter to me. I made my dream.”

The draft is still four months away and most mock drafts have yet to be constructed but Matt Miller, a draft analyst for bleacher report, tweeted Friday he believes Williams will be selected either late in the first round or early in the second round.

After talking to his family and looking at draft projections, coming to a decision wasn’t easy. There are still a lot of things Williams wishes he had accomplished during his time at Minnesota.

“Not beating Wisconsin, not winning a Big Ten Championship and not winning a bowl game are always things that I will look back and say, ‘dang, I missed out on that,’” Williams said. “Knowing where this program is going with everyone coming back and the great job coach Kill and his staff do, you know in the future those great things are going to keep happening. I’ll be a part of it still because [Minnesota] will always be my family.”

Moving forward, Williams said he will be hiring an agent Friday night and then figure out where he will train in preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine which takes place in late February.

Some potential landing spots for Williams are the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers or the Seattle Seahawks based on which teams are projected to address the tight end position via the draft. 

I grew up loving the [New York] Giants obviously because my dad played for them all those years but I mean you get the chance to play in the NFL, you can’t really complain where you go,” Williams said. “You are living your dream of going and doing the game you love and making a profession out of it.”