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Joejuan Williams taken by New England Patriots in 2019 NFL Draft

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Joejuan Williams taken by New England Patriots in 2019 NFL Draft

Photo via Vanderbilt Athletics

Photo via Vanderbilt Athletics

Photo via Vanderbilt Athletics

Photo via Vanderbilt Athletics

Simon Gibbs, Senior Writer

After an hour of playing 2048 on his iPhone and waiting for a call, Joejuan Williams is Beantown bound.

On Friday night, the former Commodore and Nashville native was selected by the New England Patriots with the 45th overall pick in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The cornerback will play alongside the likes of Patrick Chung and Jason McCourty.

“I’m a pretty silent guy when I’m nervous,” Williams said. “I was just staying pretty quiet, I was playing a game on my phone called 2048. I just kept playing, I was like ‘man, hopefully I get a call soon, but I’m just going to play this game until I hear it.’ At the end of the day, that’s what helped calm my nerves. I was definitely anxious.”

He will be joining his former Vanderbilt teammate Adam Butler in New England.

It was crazy. Me and Adam talked the night before the Draft,” said Williams. “He was excited for me and playing with him my freshman year in college while he was a senior, and now I’m playing with him again?! I’m definitely looking forward to it, and I’m definitely excited.”

Amidst his thrill of reuniting with Butler, Williams expressed what he’s most excited about: getting back onto the field.

“I’m really excited to get to contribute,” he said. “You take it one step at a time, you take it one game at a time. I’m just excited to get there. At the end of the day, I’m just excited to get there, play ball.”

The selection happened just a couple miles away from both his alma mater and his home. Williams was grateful for the opportunity to receive such a life-changing phone call with his friends, family, and coaches in attendance.

“It’s definitely been special,” he said. “Growing up here, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, it’s definitely been a blessing. That’s all I can say… I had about 10 [people in attendance]. My mom, my granny and my uncle, a few of my coaches, Coach Mason, Coach Phillips, Coach TB, my granddad. Just that close family surrounding me.”

One of those coaches, Corey Burton, even addressed the media after Williams’ selection. Burton was Williams’ running back coach at Father Ryan long before he hit his growth spurt, thus moving him out of the running back position.

“I’m elated,” said Burton. “I’m elated for him. I was there at Father Ryan for two years with him, Coach Phillips was there with him, the other guy he mentioned who’s at Vanderbilt now. I’m just so happy for him, because he deserves it. He’s such a great kid. He put a lot of hard work into it and you can tell, and his career has just skyrocketed because of it.”

Williams took advantage of the Nashville Draft by making a guest appearance on College Gameday before the first pick of the second round was announced.

Williams is the first Vanderbilt product to get picked in the second round since Zach Cunningham was selected by the Texans 57th overall in 2017. He’s just the fifth Commodore since 2000 to be selected in the first second of the NFL Draft.

Just a week ago, I predicted the Patriots would draft Williams for his immense talent and versatility. Fans can expect Coach Bill Belichick’s staff to put that versatility to the test, as Williams will appear in a variety of positions and formations.

“At the end of the day, I feel like I can run, cover and hit. You get a complete package,” said Williams. “You get a person who’s unselfish and who will play anywhere the team asks me to. I just want to contribute.”

Burton was particularly excited to see the Patriots draft Williams. He knows a good fit when he sees one, and putting Williams alongside Belichick is a match made in heaven.

Belichick probably left the draft room, he’s probably scheming up some coverages to take advantage of Joejuan already,” Burton said. “He’s such a big presence out there. He’s going to shut down all kind of receivers. It’s incredible. I’m so happy for him. He couldn’t have gone to a better organization for what he brings to the table. It couldn’t have been a more perfect scenario for him.”

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About the Writer
Simon Gibbs, Senior Writer

Simon Gibbs (‘21) is a senior writer for the sports section of the Vanderbilt Hustler. He is planning on majoring in Human and Organizational Development...

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