Pitt defensive back Marquis Williams stands just 5-foot-9, taller than only one other player on the Panthers’ roster.
“Growing up I always had to prove myself,” Williams said. “I always had to just push through and never care what nobody said or thought of me.”
Because of that resolve, Williams calls himself a ‘lionheart’.
“I ain’t the biggest on the field but… I play with all heart when I go out there,” Williams said. “I don’t worry about size, I don’t worry about anything, I just go out there, get the [play] call and play football.”
Williams’ small stature gives him a sizeable chip on his shoulder, like any cornerback worth their weight has. When asked if he looked forward to matching up against any receivers in particular this year, he didn’t mince words or use any football-isms about treating every opponent the same.
“I want Justyn Ross,” Williams said. “[He’s the] number one receiver in the ACC… we play man to man defense, so I’m ready to pad up and go against him, see what he can do.”
Ross, who plays for Clemson, missed all of 2020 with a spine injury, robbing Williams of the chance to test his mettle.
Despite his injury, calling out a receiver with 112 receptions for 1,865 yards and 17 touchdowns in two college seasons is a bold move for anyone, especially to do so in public fashion. Williams has experience lining up against the cream of the crop, though.
During the 2020 offseason he trained against Antonio Brown, and Williams credits those sessions for helping him to the top of the depth chart. He started eight games in 2020, the first starts of his college career.
“He’s part of the reason I had a good season.” Williams said. “Lining up in front of Antonio Brown, you’re not going to see that in the ACC… he’s a great receiver, he got me mentally and physically ready for last season.”
Williams’ lionheart mentality has carried him a long way.
“I’ve always been the littlest guy on the team, since high school, little league,” Williams said. “I don’t care about me being small because I know what I bring to the table, and I know that I’m gonna play my heart out.”