Suite and Mezzanine Seating Information
Maryland Media Relations is proud to present the first in a series of Q&As detailing former Terrapins' first impressions of life in the NFL. The first installment of `Terps in the NFL' features offensive lineman Edwin Williams. The three-year starter at center for the Terps signed as a rookie free agent with the Washington Redskins last month and suited up for his first minicamp practice May 1. Williams, a 2008 All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team nominee, is one of 13 players from last season's Maryland football team who have a shot at making an NFL roster this summer. He recently sat down with Maryland Media Relations to discuss his first month as a professional football player.
Media Relations: Was it a dream come true to sign with your hometown team?
Edwin Williams: "It definitely was exciting having grown up a Redskins fan and all, but it didn't really hit me until I arrived and got to meet some of the guys. It was a shock to be on the same field with guys like Jon Jansen - I mean, I was in seventh grade when he was a rookie, so I've been watching him for a long time. I got to see what it's like in the NFL and how they practice. It's different from college, but it's been really cool so far."
MR: What is it like to be reunited with former Maryland teammate Stephon Heyer and to be playing with fellow Terps Kevin Barnes and Scott Burley?
EW: "It's great that [Maryland is] well-represented here. Stephon really helped me to become a better player at Maryland, and now he's helping me out here. He's always been a very smart player and strong player, and I've always looked up to him. And guys like Scott and Kevin - it's always good to have guys you've known and played with for a long time on your side."
MR: How did your first NFL minicamp go?
EW: "It was fine. I actually got thrown into the fire really quick. All the veterans were there too, and they kind of just threw us in there with the second team at the beginning. I think I did a pretty good job. Luckily, the schemes were somewhat similar to what we did at Maryland. Technique-wise, I need to get better at that in terms of my footwork and being aggressive."
MR: What is it like to learn from a veteran offensive line and from longtime offensive line coach Joe Bugel?
EW: "It's really impressive to watch them at practice. They all work so well together and feed off each other, so it's been really good for me to watch that. They even grunt together. And Coach Bugel is amazing. He's been here forever, and he's still one of the best in the business. He wants to make me into a really good player, and I want him to help me do that."
MR: How has the Maryland football program helped prepare you for playing in the NFL?
EW: "Looking back at my time at Maryland, we had a pretty rigorous work schedule there. We worked hard, and that has helped me prepare for what to expect at this level. Our offense [at Maryland] was complex and pro-style, so that's helped me understand exactly what my new coaches want me to do."
MR: What is the biggest difference between football at the collegiate and professional levels?
EW: "Most of the people who've been in the league for more than two or three years really appreciate this game. It's their job and they really treat it like that. They're professional and they know exactly what they're supposed to do. They're businessmen supporting their families by playing football. In college you are balancing so many things, but now your only focus is football."
MR: Do you stay in touch and compare notes with your former Maryland teammates who are vying for roster spots with other NFL teams?
EW: "Oh yeah, we stay in touch. I talk mostly with the other o-line guys like Dane (Randolph) and Jaimie (Thomas) and also with Dean (Muhtadi). Some of those guys are going through OTAs right now. I spoke with Darrius (Heyward-Bey) when he got back from his first minicamp, and it sounded like he was holding his own. We're all young guys and there'll be some growing pains, but I think everyone's doing well."
MR: Has it sunk in yet that you're playing professional football at its highest level?
EW: "I don't think it will sink in until I step on that field. It's all sort of come full-circle. I'm very happy to be on a team and I'm still excited, but the excitement part has gone down. Right now it's about wanting to become a better player and trying to make this 53-man roster. That's the thing I'm really focused on right now - trying to be the best offensive lineman I can be for the Redskins. That's what I want to be, and that's pretty much my only focus right now."
MR: Have you talked to Phil Costa about his transition to playing center at Maryland?
EW: "Yeah, Phil and I are good friends. Phil's a great player and he's going to dominate this season. He asks me how everything is, and I try to offer him advice. I tell him about my star-struck moments like having Jason Campbell line up under center behind me, and we both get a kick out of that. But he's happy for me, and I'm really happy for him."
MR: Have you been able to learn from Redskins starting center Casey Rabach?
EW: "I think Casey's one of the best offensive linemen. His grip is ridiculous and he has great footwork and great hands. I think he's got the whole package. He's definitely been helpful with telling me exactly what I need to do and how I need to do it. I'm grateful to have someone like him to learn from."
MR: Now that you are a member of the Redskins, what would you like to say to the Maryland football family?
EW: "My experience at Maryland helped me get to this level, and I don't regret a day being at that place. I wish the Terps all the best, and I appreciate their support. Honestly, I think I've gotten more support from Maryland fans now than ever, and I really appreciate that. I'm just really thankful for all the opportunities I've been given."