Bridgeton High School graduate Dominique Williams got a very nice surprise Saturday afternoon.
The running back's name was not on the cut list after the New York Jets announced their 53-man roster.
"It was definitely a tears of joy moment," Williams said in a phone interview. "It has been a grind and struggle, but I realize it's all part of God's plan, and his plan for me isn't over."
It was especially surprising because Williams has been sidelined with a concussion since the Jets' first preseason game against Jacksonville on Aug. 11.
"I'm still recovering, but I'm feeling well at this point," Williams said. "It was such a shock to not see my name on the cut list after not playing for most of the preseason,"
Williams rushed for 17 yards on three carries in the 17-13 win over Jacksonville, but suffered the concussion in the third quarter of the game and hasn't played since.
He was alone in his hotel room when the cut list was released.
"I kept reading the names and realizing mine wasn't on it," Williams said.
"That started a huge reflection period for me. I sat there thinking about how I came from Bridgeton and made it here somehow, after struggling to even make it to college."
The barriers started popping up in high school when the 5-foot-9 Williams switched from middle linebacker to running back in his junior year.
Though he rushed for 2,786 yards in his final two seasons at Bridgeton, Williams got few Division I college offers.
"Colleges would call me and tell me they were looking for certain heights and weights, and (Williams) just wasn't meeting those numbers," said Bridgeton High School football coach Dave Ellen, who coached Williams until he graduated in 2008.
"They dismissed him because of numbers on a paper, and now I hope they see where he is and know it's exactly where he belongs."
Ellen said Williams has always been an underdog and a fighter.
"He has always played with a chip on his shoulder, and it serves him well," Ellen said. "I knew he was special right away when he came to (Bridgeton) in eighth grade. He already had his goals in line and his work ethic set, and it has paid off."
After high school, Williams spent one year at the prep school Milford Academy in New York, before accepting a scholarship from Division I Wagner College in Staten Island, New York.
"Wagner was a perfect fit for him," Ellen said. "He really thrived there and was able to show what he could do on the field."
In his time at Wagner, Williams became the first three-time captain in the school's history. He finished fourth in the NEC all-time career rushing list (4,435 yards).
"Making it to a college to play was a huge motivation to keep working hard," Williams said. "And now I'm getting that motivation from the NFL."
In May 2014, Williams signed as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings. He was cut at the end of preseason and signed to Arizona's practice squad, but was released after just a few days. He then re-signed with the Vikings later that season.
He signed with the Jets in January, and Williams is ready to work hard again.
"This is another step. My mother and father always instilled to me that no matter what success or obstacles come your way, you have to work harder," he said. "That's what I plan to do."