Placekicker Roger Williams arrived at Hofstra with a compelling story. His family had endured the hurricane-ravaged surroundings of Mandeville, La., in the aftermath of Katrina in 2005.
Williams, a sophomore in high school at the time, just wanted to continue playing football. He went to live with an aunt in Massachusetts, where he finished his last two years of school.
His dad, Bernard, had relocated to the New York area and Williams enrolled at Hofstra. He was a walk-on in 2007 and did not play. But Williams excelled in 2008, tying a school record with a 54-yard field goal and beating Rhode Island (from the colony founded by another Roger Williams) on a 38-yarder with three seconds left. He was 8-for-11 on the season. His reward was an athletic scholarship.
Williams was used on kickoffs this season and averaged 54.2 yards. Life was good for him until a few weeks ago, when Hofstra dropped football. That created a storm of havoc, one Williams said has rivaled even the storm of the century.
"Honestly, that was an easier transition than this one," he said. "Coming from there, I still knew I was going to play football and make friends through football. Now I have no idea."
While many of his teammates are transferring to new schools, Williams, a junior, has no prospects.
"As a kicker, right now, it is really hard to get recruited," he said. "Everyone who was looking for a kicker found one. There's really no [scholarship] money out there for a kicker. A lot of places don't want to give kickers money until they really see what you can do. Everyone at this level can kick the ball pretty far. You have to be in the right place at the right time and know the right people, and that's kind of scary."
Hofstra's announcement came shortly before the start of final exams for the fall semester. "The timing of the whole thing was just horrendous," Williams said. "How can you be expected to do well in class, get decent grades and throw in college visits on top of that?"
Most transfers will be enrolled by January. "I'm glad not everyone is in the same position,"' he said. "For me, it is a lousy situation."
Said Williams, who is marketing himself: "I made a highlight video; I put it on YouTube. I'm sending it around to anyone that will look at it, anyone who may need a kicker, anyone who may still have a little bit of scholarship money left over. I've sent e-mails everywhere. Sacred Heart seemed a little interested. New Mexico State said I could walk on but there wouldn't be money right away."
As a last resort, Williams can stay at Hofstra. His scholarship will be honored. "I can try to graduate as fast as I can," he said. "I can really bang out the classes."
But he seems bent on completing his eligibility, saying, "Maybe I'll sit out next year, then try to go to grad school for a year and play another year. I'm trying not to let go of the dream. I hope it doesn't come to that. I hope I can play."