After the Whistle: Marquice Williams’ path to becoming the first NFL coach to ever play at the University of Mary

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As you make your way around Bismarck this fall you may notice more Atlanta Falcons gear. That’s because one of the Falcons’ newest coaches has roots right here in North Dakota’s capital city.

“I mean there’s 32 special teams coordinators in the NFL,” current University of Mary head football coach Craig Bagnell explained. “That’s it, you know, and he’s one of them.”

Former University of Mary safety Marquice Williams may be one of 32 in the NFL, but he’s one of a kind for the Marauders. Earning the title as special teams coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons makes him the only former Marauders’ player to ever earn an NFL coaching job.

“He’s just excited,” Bagnell said. “He’s excited, he’s fired up. He’s put in a lot of work to get this opportunity, and I know he’s going to make the most of it.”

Williams knows all about making the most of an opportunity. He started his career at the junior college level, before transferring 1,600 miles away to the University of Mary. He was a late addition to the Marauders’ roster that his head coach Myron Schulz says turned out to be a perfect fit.

“As a player he was great,” former Marauders head football coach Myron Schulz said. “He was talented. He played strong safety for us, so he had to get us a lot of our checks. He could cover people, but he was also physical.”

As a senior, Williams earned 1st team All-NSIC honors, but even at that time coaching wasn’t on his mind. He wanted to be a physical therapist, but that changed in 2010.

“That was kind of the sad part, because he went to Winona and coached against us,” Schulz laughed. “So if I would’ve known he wanted to go in to coaching I wouldn’t have let him go to Winona.”

The change worked well for everyone, and now Williams’ impact is being felt in the N-F-L before he’s even coached a game.

“Marquice has done an unbelievable job since he’s been here,” Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said. “I didn’t know Marquice personally, but we interviewed a bunch of guys and Marquice really stood out. I really like the way he thinks, like all of our coaches, he knows how to adapt and problem solve, and it’s really cool to see what he’s done. He’s taken it and run.”

Williams is making the most of it, and all eyes in Bismarck are on the former Marauders’ safety as he makes history.

“You know, you never thought watching special teams would be the part of the game that you’re most riveted by, but now every special team by the Falcons I’ll be cheering for Marquice,” Schulz said proudly.

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