There’s a lot of talk about City/University collaboration but when you cut through the rhetoric it still comes down to finding ways to see past student or townie lables to discover the real people on the other side. Face it, labels are out, reality is in, which is why I’m such a fan of student internships. Obviously not every Kent State student can be an intern with the City but we’ve done our best to keep 2 to 3 students busy each semester in the belief that the more we understand each other’s world the sooner we’ll co-create the kind of city university community that we all want. And as an added bonus it’s great to watch the interns move on and start their professional careers after they leave us. One did just that in a big way this weekend — Jack Williams, who interned in our office last fall, was drafted by the Denver Bronco’s football team yesterday as the 119th overall pick. We couldn’t be prouder.
Jack worked with us on marketing Kent as a sports tourism location — which is a fancy way to say Jack helped us try to bring more sporting events to Kent. From high school to middle school sports tournaments, Jack helped us build an inventory of all the sports fields and gymnasiums in and around Kent so we could pitch them to tournament planners.
In case there was any doubt about the power of tournaments you may have noticed the impact of the King James basketball tournament in our area last weekend. Hotel rooms were booked for miles, restaurants were standing room only, and the lines at gas stations were full of out of state plates — all of which translates into new money spent in our local economy.
I stopped in Streetsboro for lunch with my family on the way home from my son’s lacrosse game in Westlake and I met a team from Chicago. They were playing at the Kent State Wellness Center but they had no place to stay in Kent so they had rooms in Streetsboro and between games they drove all the way back to eat in the Streetsboro strip. Those are dollars we have to keep in Kent. And Jack was helping us do that.
Now however, Jack’s got bigger things to be thinking about and we’ll be rooting for him all the way (except when he plays Cleveland).
Flashes DB Williams taken in fourth round by Denver
By David Carducci
Record-Courier staff writer
Nagging ankle injuries suffered during the 2007 season may have kept Jack Williams from going as early in the NFL Draft as he would have liked, but they didn’t force the Golden Flashes star cornerback to slide too far.
The Denver Broncos drafted Williams in Sunday’s fourth round, 119th overall.
“I think (the injury) was a big concern for a lot of teams,” said Williams. “I’m not sure how much it affected my draft stock, but I know it probably shied teams away with my performance from my senior year. I think what saved me was how well I played my junior year.”
In 2006, the 5-foot-9, 181-pound Williams led the nation with five forced fumbles. His reputation for coming up to make big hits from his corner position, combined with outstanding speed (often running sub-4.4 times in the 40-yard dash) had some pro scouts rating him as a possible second- or third-round pick prior to the start of his final college season.
“Jack obviously didn’t show the skills in his senior year he would have had he not been hurt,” said KSU coach Doug Martin. “If you have one ankle injury, it’s hard enough to overcome. Jack had two, and it was very, very frustrating for him.”
Williams still refused to use the injuries as an excuse for not living up to his expectations as a senior.
“It was pretty tough playing through all of the injuries, but I’m tough and I did it,” said Williams. “Some of my coaches would comment about my injuries, but when anything happened I took the blame for it. I’m 100 percent right now.”
Williams could see playing time right away as a nickel defender. He is expected to compete for time with backups Domonique Foxworth and Kari Paymah, who are both former third-round picks.
Denver’s starting corners are set with Champ Bailey manning one side and Dre’ Bly the other. Bly played his high school football at Western Branch High School in Chesapeake, Va., just 11 miles from Williams’ high school alma mater of Booker T. Washington in Norfolk, Va.
“I don’t know too much about (Denver’s) defensive backs, but I know they have my style of play as far as the secondary,” said Williams. “They have Champ (Bailey) and a guy from my neighborhood, Dre’ Bly. He’s right from my neck of the woods. I’m ready to go.”
Williams also expects to have a role on the Broncos’ special teams early in his pro career.
“I played all special teams (at Kent State),” said Williams. “It’s always been an important part of my game.”
In Williams and Usama Young, KSU has watched two cornerbacks go in the NFL Draft during the last two years. Young was selected by the New Orleans Saints in round three during the 2007 draft.
“Jack is very similar to Usama last year in that they both came to Kent State and worked very hard,” said Martin. “They both made themselves into top-notch players. I’m really excited for Jack. This is something he really earned. I think (Denver) saw the film of his junior year and realized what type of player he could be.”
Williams was the second Mid-American Conference player selected by the Broncos in Sunday’s fourth round. They took Bowling Green offensive lineman Kory Lichtensteiger 11 picks earlier.
Lichtenstieger and Williams may find an opportunity to play in front of some of their old college fans when Denver plays a Thursday night game at Cleveland Browns Stadium Nov. 6.
Not to be outdone, our very first intern, Carli Cichocki, dropped us a note reporting that she’s happily working at a medium sized PR firm (her degree was communications from Kent State) in Columbus. She said that her company also has offices in Cleveland and Dayton so she travels around Ohio quite a bit. Carli served as the City’s public information officer during her internship and she did a great job of managing the city’s press so I’m sure it won’t be long before we’re reading about her rapid rise in the corporate world.
And of course our favorite intern (not that we play favorites), Suzanne Robertson, was so good that we ended up hiring her after she completed her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Kent State. She’s now the Assistant to The City Manager which means she keeps us all operating safely at high speeds. It’s a great way for her to get some more responsibility and experience dealing with all the different stuff that knocks on a city manager’s door. She’s destined to be sitting in a city manager’s chair in the not too distant future so we’re glad to have her here with us as she cuts her teeth on city policy and operations matters.
As you can see, we’ve had some really talented young people in our office who have certainly helped us see planet Kent through a younger set of eyes — and I think we’ve helped them see Kent in new ways as well. We changed each other. And I think for the good.