Few people outside those paid to know knew much about Cary Williams, the Tennessee Titans’ seventh-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Fewer knew anything about where he played at tiny Washburn University, a Division II school in Topeka, Kan.
And even fewer knew what an Ichabod, Washburn’s mascot, was.
While many reporters gathered at the Titans’ first open rookie practice on Friday afternoon wondering what Williams was all about, the subject eventually turned to asking the cornerback a key question: Exactly what is an Ichabod?
“I’m not sure. Research it and get back to me,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.
So, the topic was broached with Williams, who should know, given he spent three seasons as an Ichabod.
“An Ichabod is basically an oversized monopoly man,” said Williams, explaining what the school’s logo looks like. “He’s kind of tall with books in his hand, top hat and glasses. He has a coattail. I guess you can call him the Monopoly man in a sense.”
According to the Washburn Alumni Association’s website, Ichabod was actually the first name of the man for whom the school is named. It seems that Ichabod Washburn made a $25,000 donation to the school back in 1868, and the school was renamed after its benefactor.
Williams is hopeful of making a name for himself in Nashville by earning a spot with the Titans. In fact, he will do himself well if he can distinguish himself from all the other players named Williams just on the Tennessee roster.
He is one of five players with that last name with the Titans and the only one to play defense. The other four — Roydell, Mike, Paul and newly signed undrafted free agent Edward — are all wide receivers.
Asked what his goals are, he replied, “Just making the team and trying to get a spot, whether it’s special teams or being in the defensive package. It doesn’t matter. I’m just here to produce and do whatever I can to get this team better. coach [Jeff] Fisher believes in me and believes in all of us.”
In terms of how he did in making the big jump from a small school to the NFL, Williams felt he acquitted himself well.
“I went out there and I feel like I competed, and I’m just here to take it one day at a time and get better,” he said.
Williams’ first chance will probably come on special teams as he will be tucked away as a third-stringer on the depth chart initially behind starters Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper, as well as backups Eric King and Reynaldo Hill. Kick returner Chris Carr is also in the backup mix, though he might wind up backing up more at safety than cornerback.
Williams might also be in the right place to make a name for himself as an unheralded cornerback. All five players ahead of him on the depth chart entered the league with less than a strong draft pedigree.
Finnegan and Hill were both seventh-round picks like Williams. Harper and Carr, though signed by the Titans as free agents, entered the NFL as undrafted free agents with Indianapolis and Oakland, respectively. King, originally a fifth-round choice of Buffalo, was a waiver pickup two seasons ago.