A huge commitment

From Team Canada to UND and back, Zack Williams’s recruitment journey is a long one

Photo provided by Zack Williams

Zack Williams is one of the most humble, polite individuals you will meet. Once he hits the gridiron, however, the six-foot-six, 285-pound offensive lineman turns a switch on, and if you’re in his way, you’ll find yourself on the turf in a hurry.

Williams’s football journey is an interesting one. He played the game from age seven until 12, but then stopped in order to pursue hockey. Football caught his attention again in high school, though, and he chose to take it up in grade 10 at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate.

Things didn’t go as planned in his sophomore season, unfortunately, as he saw little to no game action. Instead of getting down, Williams took his lack of playing time as motivation – working hard and getting serious with his training in the off-season, putting on an extra 30 pounds. That’s when things changed for the better.

Williams ended up starting every game at left tackle the following season for Murdoch, and also earned a spot on Team Manitoba for the 2013 Football Canada Cup, where he played in every game at his more natural position of right tackle.

He would earn the nod for Team Manitoba again in 2014, and was also selected to Team Canada later that summer. To cap things off, he chose to forgo his grade 12 season at Murdoch and instead played for the CJFL’s Winnipeg Rifles, where he was named PFC Rookie of the year.

With all the accolades Williams was gaining, it’s no surprise that he was highly recruited. He talked to every single CIS football team heading into his senior year, except those in the RSEQ conference. Ultimately, he decided to commit to the University of North Dakota, a Division 1 American school.

Things looked great going forward, but Williams knew that his decision to commit to UND wasn’t wholehearted.

“Deep down, I wanted to go to the [University of Manitoba] Bisons, but the pressure I guess you could say, sucked me down,” Williams said.

“Even before the [recruiting] process, I thought that I wanted to stay home.”

Because Williams committed before grade 12, he had a whole year to ponder his choice. Just under a month ago, he opted to de-commit, for a variety of personal reasons. Not too long after that, he became a Bison.

Williams stated that he’s comfortable with his choice to stay at home, and the entire coaching staff likely is too – none more than head coach Brian Dobie though, with whom Williams has a very strong relationship.

“We have a strong connection. He was very welcoming right off the hop, and a very nice guy,” Williams said. “He makes you feel like a part of the team right away.”

With Williams’s recent decision to play for Manitoba, the Bisons now have few different options at the currently vacant right tackle position. The soft-spoken lineman would like to fill that void immediately, and help bring the Vanier Cup back to the prairies. Given his track record, he has a good shot.

“I feel right now, it’s a good shot this year to win a Vanier,” Williams said. “I want to do what I can to go out and win one.”