Tyler Williams is kind of like that 1996 Pontiac Grand Prix he bought for $900 as a college freshman, a green sedan with 274,000 miles on it that he still drives when he’s home in Oregon — modest, unassuming, often overlooked.
“It’s a good car, a reliable car,” the Chargers wide receiver said with a grin during last week’s mini-camp. “And it’s still rolling.”
Just like its owner, despite the roadblocks that nearly thwarted his career.
Williams didn’t receive any major college scholarship offers after starring in three sports at tiny Cascade High School in Turner, Ore., so he went to Western Oregon, an obscure Division II school in Monmouth, to play football.
He did not get picked in the 2015 NFL draft after a solid college career in which he caught 165 passes for 2,792 yards and 21 touchdowns, so Williams signed as a free agent with the Chargers with little chance of making the team.
Though he earned a 53-man roster spot out of training camp in 2015, Williams was relegated to special teams — as a “gunner” on the punt team — in the few games he played in and spent two months on the practice squad.
Then his career trajectory shot upward on one play in the season finale, an 80-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter of a 27-20 loss to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Denver Broncos in Sports Authority Field.
An injury pushed Williams into the playing rotation at receiver, but the heavily favored Broncos, with their stout defense, were smothering the Chargers’ passing game with a cover-four zone.
“We needed a…
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