US college star pledges Broncos allegiance
The closest American college football star Jesse Williams will get to representing the Broncos is being picked up by Denver in April’s NFL Draft.
However, that did not stop eyebrows being raised when the 22-year-old donned a Brisbane NRL jersey at Red Hill on Wednesday.
Returning to his hometown Brisbane, the 145kg, 193cm University of Alabama brute pledged his allegiance to the Broncos – as an honorary member of the NRL club.
Dwarfed Broncos captain Sam Thaiday presented Williams a personalised jersey with his college No.54 on the back before joking he could also organise an Indigenous All Stars nod ahead of the NRL’s February 9 season opener in Brisbane.
Williams – dubbed “Tha Monstar” – did take up rugby league as a teenager at Brisbane’s Cavendish Road High School but unbelievably went unnoticed by Broncos scouts.
“I always think about what I could have done if I ever pushed it further (in rugby league) but I never got the opportunity,” Williams told reporters.
But the indigenous Australian intends making his mark in the NFL – starting with an expected $6 million contract as a first round draft pick in April.
“I think he chosen a better option than rugby league. We’ll stay here and toil away,” Thaiday laughed.
“Jesse has got a great opportunity now to represent not only represent Australia (in the NFL) but also his people.”
Williams is still buzzing from his leading role in the University of Alabama’s BCS Championship win earlier this month when they crushed No.1-ranked Notre Dame 42-14 in Miami, Florida.
It was Alabama and Williams’ second successive BCS Championship after upsetting Louisiana State University 21-0 last year.
Among his well wishers was Prime Minister Julia Gillard who congratulated him via Skype.
However, he will come crashing back to earth next month after accepting an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine – a nationally televised week-long camp in Indianapolis where he will undergo a series of tests as NFL teams run the rule over him.
Incredibly, Williams is tipped to break the Combine’s bench-press record of 56 reps of 100kg.
Overall his bench-press PB is 272.5kg – the NRL record currently stands at 225kg.
Williams said he shared more than Torres Straight Islander heritage with Thaiday – he also wanted to be a role model for his people.
“Just talking to Sam about it, he’s obviously trying to do his thing as well as helping indigenous youth through sport,” Williams said.
“(He’s) an ambassador over here doing well in rugby league and me over there trying to do what I’m trying to do and hopefully come together in the future some time.”
Williams is strongly tipped to be picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers in April.© AAP 2013