It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment to hear your name called at the NFL Draft. Few things can make that experience even sweeter, but when Joejuan Williams was selected in the second round, he walked on stage in Nashville, the city where he grew up, started playing football and went to college.
It doesn't get much sweeter than that.
"It was definitely special. It was a long time coming. Growing up here, going to school here, high school here, middle school, elementary school, college, it was definitely special to hear my name called here in Nashville too," Joejuan said. "Everything I do, I try to represent for the 615, and that’s what I’m going to try to do once I get to the next level."
That dream of the next level came true when the Patriots selected Joejuan with the 45th overall pick on Friday night. Dont'a Hightower called his name, and just like that, Joejuan was a Patriot.
"Me and Dont’a talked a couple of days ago at an event, and then we talked right before the draft started today," Joejuan said Friday night. "He definitely said that they wanted me on the squad and he wants me on the squad. Just to hear my name called on that team and to play beside them and play beside all those guys, I’m definitely looking forward to it."
But before the next chapter begins, there are some things that Patriots Nation has to learn about Joejuan beyond his performance on the football field.
Joejuan attended Vanderbilt University, and before the Draft, the school's athletics department put out a 10-minute documentary that follows Joejuan through the Combine and NFL Pro Day process. In the documentary, he talks openly about the struggles he and his family faced growing up in Nashville. His mother, Stephanie Roberts, raised Joejuan and his brother on her own, working multiple jobs and facing eviction.
"We hit a lot of low points, but through that, she always tried to show her love for her kids," Joejuan said.
Joejuan's father isn't in his life, but he said that his father was a prominent football player in Tennessee. This motivated Joejuan to excel in football.
"I wanted to be better than him at everything I did in life," he said.
The feature is worth watching in its entirety.
Football isn't his only passion, either. Joejuan told "Good Morning Football" that he is an avid drawer and is into anime.
"I've been drawing since I remember, since I was 5, 6," he told the hosts. "I've always loved to draw."
And his interest in anime will surely be well-received by his new Patriots teammates, several of whom have bonded over their shared interest. One of those Patriots is Adam Butler, who also played for Vanderbilt.
During his appearance on "Good Morning Football," Peter Schrager had an intuitive moment, and he turned out to be spot on.
"I'm listening to this kid speak. I feel like you're a New England Patriot already," he said. "Like this is it. This is what Belichick's dream prospect is."
Hey, good call, Peter. Welcome to New England, Joejuan.