Ty'Son Williams went to three colleges, tore his ACL in his senior season and wasn't drafted in 2020.
His path to the NFL was difficult, but that didn't stop Williams. He approaches life the same way he carries a football. Williams doesn't go down easily.
Williams earned his place on the Ravens' 2021 roster by running with authority throughout training camp and the preseason, and now he could figure prominently in their offense. With J.K. Dobbins lost for the season, Williams joins third-year pro Justice Hill as the backup running backs behind Gus Williams heading into Week 1.
Hill returned to practice Wednesday, but missed the last two preseason games with an ankle injury. During that time, Williams has ascended.
He's a player who few people were talking about when training camp began, but he created a buzz with his performance. After spending 2020 on the Ravens' practice squad, Williams now looks like a running back ready for prime time. When Williams touched the football during training camp and the preseason, good things happened. He made timely cuts, he showed burst and excellent vision, and he rarely went down on first contact.
His signature moment was a 20-yard touchdown run against the Carolina Panthers in the second preseason game, when he evaded four would-be tacklers to reach the end zone.
It was the kind of run that makes people notice. Now that he's made the 53-man roster, Williams plans to keep making plays.
"It's very exciting, very exciting," Williams said. "But like I said, I just try to keep the same approach – doing the things that got me here – and I know they'll take me far."
Williams began his college career at North Carolina, but he transferred to South Carolina after one season. Williams was not a starter for the Gamecocks, gaining 799 yards in two seasons. With another year of eligibility left, Williams transferred again in 2020 to BYU, where he ran for 264 yards in four games before suffering his ACL injury.
That didn't leave Williams with a large resume of college game tape, and he went undrafted before joining the Ravens' practice squad. However, Williams looks fully recovered from his knee injury, and he doesn't have tons of mileage on his legs from being a workhorse back in college.
Head Coach John Harbaugh likes Williams' toughness and reliability, and he has also been impressed with his steady demeanor as a young player.
"He jumped out right away last year," Harbaugh said. "All throughout the year he got better and better. He practiced every day and he developed. What he is now is what he's worked to become. Now he goes from here and we'll see what he does. I think he's going to do really well."
There wasn't a huge celebration by Williams when he found out he had made the 53-man roster. From several conversations with Harbaugh, Williams had an inkling that he was showing the coaches want they wanted to see.
Now he's focusing on the task at hand. Williams says his work ethic comes from his mother, Natoishia Williams, who is a 20-year Army veteran. His mother was in town visiting Williams when he found out he had made the team, but Williams said her reaction was low-key. Maybe she figured her son still has more work to accomplish.
"I was trying to see if she would say anything about it, but she didn't even say anything," Williams said smiling. "A couple of my friends reached out, saying they were proud of me. Those things meant a lot to me."
Williams has a different running style than Edwards, but both are physical backs and that suits the Ravens' offense. Edwards and Williams have become friends in the running back room, and they have a natural connection as undrafted rookies who have made it to the big time.
"I think we both have similar games. Gus kind of does his thing, I do mine as well," Williams said. "He's a great back. He kind of went through the same thing I did. A lot of questions I had early on I would ask him. I think we're ready."
There were times in Williams' career where he looked a long way from making it to the NFL. But now that he's made it, he wants to stay awhile. When he thinks about his journey he feels blessed, but Williams hopes the best is yet to come.
"It's crazy, man," Williams said. "Really, words just can't describe it. But like I said, you just keep pressing forward, keep putting in the work, and you let everything else take care of itself."