The day after each year’s Round 1 pick is made, we traditionally roll out an “X Things You Didn’t Know About” that pick. But so many of the storylines regarding Quinnen Williams revolve around his close relationship with his family and especially with his deceased mother, so we’re presenting a variation that theme, a family story with a half-dozen chapters to let you know where the Jets’ “new Q” is coming from:
The Color Is Pink
Quinnen got a big chest tattoo when he was in eighth grade, featuring pink stars. And his whole family embraces the color. They wear pink on his mother Marquischa’s birthday, Mother’s day, on the annual breast cancer awareness 5K that they run.
And they especially wear it during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, and on every Aug. 10, which was the date of his mother’s death.
“I know she’s proud of me but she doesn’t want me to get complacent,” he told ESPN’s Suzy Kolber on Thursday night, using the present tense even though she passed in 2010.
He didn’t have time to get complacent after his mother died because his father, Quincy Williams Sr., was suddenly left in charge of raising four children. Each individual picked out a specialty to help keep the family going. Quinnen, according to al.com, became the head chef.While still in high school, he woke up at 5 a.m. each day to work out, then whipped up breakfast for the family. That’s still his favorite meal to prepare, although he’s become adept at burgers and chicken alfredo. Steaks? Not so much.
One of Q’s mantras to Jets reporters and fans was “I’m here to work hard.” He knows how to do it and when to do it.
As a sophomore two-way lineman at Wenonah HS in Birmingham, AL, for instance, he admitted, “It was a year of getting tossed around.” His answer was to fanatically reshape his body and then get back on pace for an outstanding junior season.
Same kind of thing happened in his redshirt freshman year at Alabama, when he was an undersized, underutilized end. But he, head coach Nick Saban and the ‘Bama staff saw him in the middle of the Tide defense. So he spent all offseason last year reshaping his body again and turned himself into the beast who gave Alabama foes fits and rose to the third pick of the draft.
Man of a Thousand Names
Well, maybe only several nicknames. “Q” is a natural, but it doesn’t stand out on a green team full of “Q’s” — Quincy, Qvale, Quadree.
Quinnen used to be known as “Cookie” in middle school because of, well, his passion for cookies. But even at 6’3″ and 303, he’s put that one well in his rearview mirror.
How about “Ivory”? Alabama LT Jonah Williams, who went 11th overall in Thursday’s first round to Cincinnati, used to compare neutralizing Williams in practice “to trying to block a 300-pound bar of soap.”
Grandma on Wheels
With Quinnen about to come into some NFL rookie contract money, what will he buy for himself? “I’m a real tight guy,” he told hollywoodlife.com ahead of the draft. “I’m going to still be wearing the same Nike sweats and stuff.”
But what will he splurge on? “I think I’m going to buy my grandma a car,” he said. “And she don’t really wear jewelry so I’ll buy her jewelry.” Why Grandma? Because Yvarta Henderson helped his father raise the Williams family after her daughter’s passing.
Marquischa Henderson Williams was an elementary school teacher from a family of teachers, including her mother. But teaching so far isn’t in the cards for Quinnen.
“They don’t make a lot of money,” he observed in a February story on nfl.com. “The educators around me, they would do it for free. That’s something you’ve got to be born with, something you’ve got to have inside you. I ain’t got that inside me.”
But he does have his mother’s smile, and her teaching genes. He’s helped younger teammates with playbooks. And he has returned to Birmingham to counsel students about how to deal with the tough stuff going on at home.
He got that from coping with the loss of his mother.
“Nobody knew what I went through. My brothers and sister didn’t know, my dad didn’t know, my grandmother didn’t know. Only I knew what I was going through,” Williams said. “So now I look around and think, ‘I really don’t know what somebody else is going through, so why can’t I be that person to make their day brighter?’ “