By Bill Coats
Sunday, Oct. 14 2007

When Brandon Williams talks about coming home, he means it literally.

Williams, a free-agent wide receiver/returner signed by the Rams last week, has
moved back in with his family in north St. Louis County.

"We've got a nice-size house, enough room for everybody," Williams said. "So,
I'm at home."

Williams is sharing space with his mother, Tammy Davis; brother, Walter Powell,
15; and sister, Alexis Hodges, 12. Another brother, Michael Williams Jr., 19,
is a student at the University of Missouri.

His father, Michael Williams, lives in East St. Louis.

"We have a good relationship," Brandon said. "He talks to me about life all the
time. That's very important to me."

The homecoming for Williams — the seventh product of an area high school who
has wound up with the Rams — was almost six years in the making. After a
standout career at Hazelwood East High, he spent four years at the University
of Wisconsin and was a third-round draft pick by the San Francisco ***** in

After averaging 6.7 yards on punt returns as a rookie, Williams was getting 6.4
yards this year when the 'Niners decided to replace him with veteran Michael
Lewis. Williams was released Sept. 25, a move that he said stunned him.

"I really had no idea what was going on," said Williams, 23. "But it happened,
and like everybody always says, everything happens for a reason. So I guess the
reason was to come back home."

And join a winless Rams team wracked by injuries. Though he's had a mere three
practices with the team, the 5-foot-11, 183-pound Williams is expected to be on
the game-day roster Sunday in Baltimore.


Williams was 7 when he started playing football with the Mathews-Dickey
Bulldogs. Like most youngsters, he tried several positions. But catching the
ball always came naturally.

He spent hours working on his skills with his uncle, Terrell Davis, an
assistant coach at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

"I'd have him catch 100 balls a day, run routes, and I introduced him to weight
lifting," Davis said. "I was trying to get him ready."

Brandon was willing to put in the effort.

"He loved football," his mother said, "and he always had a great work ethic."

Williams' fondness for the sport increased in 1995, when the Rams moved from
Los Angeles. Williams, then 11, immediately became a devoted fan; his favorites
were wide receivers Isaac Bruce and, later, Torry Holt.

A family relationship with Ray Agnew, a Rams defensive tackle from 1998-2000
and now a scout in the organization, gained Williams special access to the

"Every now and then I would get to come in and be around the guys," Williams
said. "It was always cool."

In two varsity seasons, Williams caught 51 passes for 1,065 yards for Hazelwood
East, a Suburban North Conference powerhouse that went 23-2 in that span. He
also starred on the track team, where he was a member of the 4 x 200-meter
relay team that won two state titles.

As a senior, Williams was No. 9 among the Post-Dispatch's "Super 30" recruits.
That was about the time he thought it might be possible to make a living
playing football.

"That was always a dream of mine," he said, "but it didn't really set in until

Today, he's the only one on that 30-man list in the NFL.


Williams started 44 games for the Badgers and earned All-Big Ten Conference
honors his junior and senior years. He finished with a school-record 202
receptions and 2,924 yards. Plus, he returned 106 kickoffs for a school- and
Big Ten-record 2,349 yards.

When Williams sizzled over 40 yards in 4.35 seconds at Wisconsin's pro day, his
stock soared even higher. The ***** drafted him in the third round (No. 84

He played in 13 games as a rookie, almost solely on special teams. In the
second game this season, he muffed a punt at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams
recovered and kicked a field goal four plays later. The 'Niners rallied to win
17-16, but Williams' days by the bay were numbered.

Less than a month later, he was suiting up at Rams Park.

"I took a visit to Oakland, and I had a couple of other visits scheduled,"
Williams said. "But I came and worked out for the Rams, too, and when they gave
me the call back, I canceled the other visits. It was a no-brainer. I feel
they're going to give me an opportunity to do what I can do, and I appreciate

Plus the ticket home.

"I'm so glad to have him back," Tammy Davis said.