Self-scouting led former Buckeye Camren Williams to NFL front office role

Lori Schmidt
The Columbus Dispatch

Former Ohio State linebacker Camren Williams admits that kids don't grow up wanting a job like his.

Williams even concedes his original goal was to be an NFL player. But then about halfway through his college career, he realized he was, as one highly regarded NFL scout put it, a linebacker who didn't even "have the upside to hang out on the practice squad" at the next level.

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That scout? Williams himself.

After April's NFL draft, Williams was promoted to college scouting director for the New England Patriots.

"This is a new challenge for me," Williams said, "and, look, I'm trying to be the best evaluator that I can possibly be. That's where I'm at. I want to stay where my feet are."

Camren Williams joined the New England Patriots front office in 2016. (AP Photo)

He joined the organization in 2016, shortly after graduating from OSU with a degree in communications. He started as a scouting assistant, served as an area scout for three years and was a national scout in 2021.

While this is a remarkable climb, news regarding this latest step was shared in a surprisingly unremarkable way. Williams said he was told about his new role in a passing conversation with director of player personnel Matt Groh.

But even without a big celebration, this marked a special achievement for Williams. His father, Brent was drafted by the Patriots in 1986 and played eight of his 11 NFL seasons there. He ranks 10th in franchise history with 43 1/2 sacks.

Camren grew up 20 minutes from Gillette Stadium.

He is also walking in the footsteps of his godfather, Marvin Allen, who was a teammate of Brent Williams in New England. After his career as a running back was over, Allen went on to work in player personnel, and he's the assistant general manager for the Miami Dolphins.

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Obviously, those aren't Williams' only influences.

"I, to this day, use a lot of the lessons I learned on and off the field at Ohio State," Williams said. "Coach (Urban) Meyer, Luke Fickell, Chris Ash, all those guys who were leading on the defensive side of the ball when I was playing linebacker, that was where so much of the foundation was laid for me."

He also believes that the Buckeyes' "Real Life Wednesdays" program, which teaches life skills, was helpful in preparing him for an NFL front office role. That's part of the reason he spoke at such an event in May. Another reason is that he wants other football players to have an easier time considering all their professional options and envisioning themselves in a position like his.

After all, Ohio State normally prepares Buckeyes players for life in the NFL in a very different capacity.

Ohio State linebacker Camren Williams tackles Virginia Tech Hokies running back Travon McMillian during a 2015 game.

"Going back to well before I played," he said, "there's plenty of examples of players who played Big Ten football at Ohio State, succeeded there, and it translated into the league. And that's still going up to this day. That's why you see so many players drafted in the first round because they're talented and coached well, and then also they come from a really good program in Ohio State. I don't think that's a controversial take at all."

It also would not be controversial to call Williams a success story, although he jokes it is the least interesting one in his family. His older brother, Brennan Marcel Williams, is the WWE wrestler known as MACE. His younger sister, Jaylen Williams, has been modeling.

Camren has yet to start a family of his own, but he thinks he's in the right place to do so.

"I'm 28," he chuckled. "Some would say that's getting up there these days. And, yeah, my family is putting on the pressure."

If he does have kids, he'll make sure they know the possibilities for them are even greater than they could imagine.

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