Hopkins basketball star now All-America football player for NDSU

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 5, 2013 - 10:21 AM

  Marcus Williams left hoops behind, not not titles. He and NDSU will seek a repeat today.

hide

North Dakota State's Marcus Williams

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Marcus Williams was the outlier on the 2009 Hopkins High School basketball team, choosing college football, while Royce White and the other three starters from that 31-0 state championship squad went the Division I basketball route.

No Big Ten teams offered Williams a scholarship, so he walked on at North Dakota State. Now he's a junior cornerback, a two-time All-America, an NFL prospect and a big reason NDSU will challenge for a second consecutive national championship Saturday in Frisco, Texas.

The Bison (13-1) meet Sam Houston State (11-3) at noon in a rematch of last year's Football Championship Subdivision title game, which NDSU won 17-6.

"Nationally, [last year's championship] game was a surprise because I don't think people knew anything about North Dakota State or what we were about," Williams said.

Sam Houston State was undefeated heading into last year's matchup, averaging 39.1 points per game. But with Williams providing his usual blanket coverage, the Bison played suffocating defense, as they have so many times in going 27-2 over the past two seasons.

After winning eight Division II titles, NDSU made the move to Division I-AA in 2004. That level is now FCS, and 10th-year Bison coach Craig Bohl has built a powerhouse. He signed an eight-year extension this week after being named the Eddie Robinson FCS Coach of the Year.

Minnesotans hold 15 of the 44 spots on NDSU's two-deep roster. Williams and Billy Turner, a 6-6, 300-pound junior tackle from Mounds View, are both considered prospects for the 2014 NFL draft. Grant Olson, a junior middle linebacker from Wayzata, recorded a school record 29 tackles in the Bison's quarterfinal victory over Wofford. He was hospitalized early last week because of a swollen appendix but avoided surgery and is expected to play Saturday.

Former Minneapolis North quarterback Carlton Littlejohn is an outside linebacker and the Bison's third-leading tackler. He electrified the Fargodome with a last-minute blocked field goal that capped a 23-20 victory over Georgia Southern in the semifinals.

"It was one of the biggest plays of the year, and it couldn't happen at a better time," Williams said.

Littlejohn and Williams grew up playing together at North Commons Park, across the street from North High School. Littlejohn stuck with North's dwindling football program, even as Williams and other top athletes fled to suburban high schools. Williams was a three-year starter at receiver and defensive back for Hopkins, as well as a two-time all-conference point guard.

"When I chose football, a lot of people didn't understand why I did it," Williams said. "It was a hard decision, but I think I made the right choice."

Williams came home and showed off his skills at TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 24, 2011, scoring two defensive touchdowns to help lead NDSU over the Gophers 37-24. Williams has five interceptions this year and 16 for his career. The totals could be higher, but opposing quarterbacks are careful to avoid him.

"His freshman year, he was kind of a breakout guy," Littlejohn said. "You didn't really know much about him; you could just see he was a good athlete. After last year, I mean, he just put his name on the map making plays."

Williams is part of a defense that leads the FCS in fewest points allowed, at 11.4 per game. NDSU's one loss came against Indiana State on Oct. 13. Sam Houston State has played a tougher schedule, with losses to Baylor (48-23), Central Arkansas (24-20) and Texas A&M (47-28).

Like last year's title clash between NDSU and Sam Houston State, this game is a sellout at 20,000-seat FC Dallas Stadium.

"I've seen tickets going on StubHub for big money," Williams said. "I told my parents, 'Hey there's only a few guys who can get tickets, and for the other people, I'm sorry.' But the game's on TV, so they can watch it there."

  • FCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME NORTH DAKOTA STATE VS. SAM HOUSTON STATE • NOON, SATURDAY • ESPN2

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 5 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day 3
Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom 4
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda 5
Washington - WP: D. Fister 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: T. Koehler 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 3
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 5 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Cleveland - LP: K. Crockett 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: J. Burton 5
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 10 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 10 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 5
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 15
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey 2
Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 3
Texas - WP: L. Bonilla 12 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 3
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne 5
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 5
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close