By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
Being selected to participate in an all-star event is special in itself. Being selected to participate in an all-star event where you can wear your country’s name across the front of your jersey? Well, that doesn’t come around too often.
On Wednesday night, two McKinney High school football standouts will participate in the inaugural U-18 International Bowl between the U.S. and Canada in Austin, Tex. Wide receiver T.V. Williams and guard David Tachie, both juniors, were selected by USA Football and have participated in the week-long events that included practices, meetings, and a Super Bowl watching party on Sunday night.
“I was actually kind of surprised with how they found me,” said Williams. “I wasn’t really expecting it to be honest.”
Williams received a message on Facebook from the USA Football officials asking him about his interest in playing in the bowl game, but because of the amount of messages he receives from coaches every day, he left it up to his father to check it out and tell him all about it. His father, A.C. Williams, told his son he should seriously check out the message after reading what it said.
After some convincing on his father’s part, T.V. finally read the e-mail.
“At first I was hesitant because my first thought was, ‘What if I get hurt in the game and mess up my senior season?’ So I told my dad I probably wouldn’t go,” said Williams.
However, it took some simple words from his father to realize the opportunity he had in front of him.
“He told me it might be the only time I’ll ever get to wear U.S.A on my chest, and a lot of people can’t say that.”
For Tachie, he didn’t even realize he was selected for the game until A.C. helped the process along just a bit.
“I actually didn’t know about it at first,” said Tachie. “Coach A.C. (Williams) was talking to the coach and they were trying to get in contact with me, so they gave me his Facebook and we started communicating.”
The 6-foot-2-inch, 280-pound guard said that he was honored to represent his country and to have been selected to such a well-recognized event.
“Hopefully I just go out there and showcase my skill around a lot of great competitors,” said Tachie. “I just want it to be a good experience.”
Both Williams and Tachie have been varsity players since their sophomore seasons, and both played significant roles in the Lions’ turnaround last season. Williams finished with 45 receptions for 789 yards and 10 touchdowns, which was tied with Connor Fuentes for most receiving touchdowns on the team. Tachie was the Lions starting right guard for an offense that averaged 33 points per game and had two running backs rush for more than 595 yards.
“I thought David played at a consistently high level at right guard for us all year, and he is always getting stronger and getting better throughout the year,” said Lions head coach Jeff Smith. “T.V. was a really big part of our offense and had about 700 yards receiving with 10 touchdowns. He has that big play ability and he is the guy that defense worry about. I thought both stepped their games up in their junior years and we will be leaning on them pretty heavily in their senior seasons.”
Because of their individual success on the field, both Williams and Tachie have had significant college interest in the past year. According to 247Sports.com, Williams is ranked as a four-star recruit and the 40th best prospect in the state of Texas for the class of 2014. He has one offer from the University of Houston but has also had interest from Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, LSU, Oregon, SMU, and TCU.
While Tachie has yet to receive an official offer yet, he has received interest from Boise State, Brigham Young University, Iowa, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, and Missouri. When asked what he looks for most in a school during this recruiting process, Tachie said the overall success in the classroom would have a huge impact on where he plays his college ball.
“I want a school with a high graduation rate and one that is on top of their academics because that is what’s most important for me,” said Tachie.
Of course he doesn’t want to play for a bad program either.
“I also want them to be good obviously,” he said with a slight chuckle.
Tachie said he makes A’s and B’s in the classroom, and while football is very important to him and is what he loves to play, he said he has always put the same level of importance on what goes on in the classroom as what is done on the football field.
And while Williams is a solid academic student as well, his top priority when deciding where to play his college ball will come down to something that is rarely seen in the NCAA these days: coaching stability.
“I was talking to Texas Tech a lot and when their coach (Tommy Tuberville) left, I didn’t hear from them from a month and I was freaking out,” said Williams. “I definitely want a coach that stays there for all four years, because I don’t want to get there and in my sophomore year he moves out and there is a whole new coaching staff.”
With there being three days for practices and meeting leading up to the game on Wednesday, there will be plenty of opportunities for both players to showcase their skill set for the hundreds of coaches and scouts that will be in attendance in Austin. While some college camps are designed to work on certain aspects of your game, Williams said that an event like the International Bowl is more designed to “show off” a little bit.
“If you didn’t have it they wouldn’t have invited you, so your goal is to just go down there and show off,” said Williams.
“When you go to camps you have to make sure that you are functioning at a pretty high level,” said Smith. “You want them to go down there and approach it the right way, get a lot of rest, and be mentally prepared to do well. There are many times you are playing other great recruits and kids trying to play college ball, so it is a great opportunity to go out there and compete against some really good people.”
If there were one drawback for Williams in participating at the all-star event on Wednesday, it would be missing his teammate and mentor sign with San Angelo State University on National Signing Day. According to Williams, Red Shannon, the Lions dynamic offensive weapon, was his role model throughout his first two seasons on the varsity roster.
“I can’t describe how big Red was in my life,” said Williams. “If Red weren’t here I wouldn’t be where I am at right now. He was the biggest role model for me on and off the field, and he just showed me how to act on the field. Not only was he great on the field but also in practice he was always the hardest worker. The coaches would get mad because the defensive guys would hit him, but he would always tell them he welcomed it and wanted the contact.”
Williams and Tachie were two of just 44 players selected to play for Team U.S.A at the U-18 level, and while the week in Austin is intended to be light-hearted and a “friendly” gathering of countries, Williams said he has one goal in mind when he takes the field on Wednesday.
“I want to kill Canada,” said Williams with a large smile. “There is no kind of football like the one played in America, especially in Texas. There’s also going to be a lot of college scouts down there, so we just have to go out there and kill.”