From Tennessee to AZ: “Memphis” Right At Home

For some, change is never easy. Eric Williams, Jr. can certainly relate. He and his family relocated to the west Valley from Tennessee after his mother was transferred for her job.

Williams arrived on the campus of Glendale’s Copper Canyon High School before last season with wide eyes and a bit of trepidation.

“It was difficult because I really didn’t know anybody out here,” Williams said to Sports360AZ.com. “I didn’t know how I was going to fit in. It just took time.”

In reality, it didn’t take much time at all.

The 6-foot-2, 260-pound defensive tackle/defensive end became a disruptive force in the middle of Sean Freeman’s defensive front last fall as a junior.

Williams also found a home among the CCHS community.

“This kid’s probably the most popular kid on campus, everybody knows him,” Freeman said with a wide smile to Sports360AZ.com. “From the first day he stepped on the field, that southern accent…everybody fell in love with him. He’s probably the heart and soul of our team right now.”

In his early days in Arizona he also adopted a nickname, which couldn’t be more fitting.

“No one really knew my name when I first got here,” he explained with a grin. “So, Coach Freeman actually came up with the name “Memphis” because that’s where I was from so everybody kept calling me “Memphis.” Still to this day, people really don’t know my real name.”

“Memphis”, or whatever you prefer to call Williams, plays with passion and great effort, much like the trio of NFL stars (past and present) who he patterns his game after.

“I like to look at Aaron Donald, John Randall and Myles Garrett,” he explained. “They’re the big names that pop out to me. I like their work ethic and I like to mimic their techniques and put it into my move sets for games.”

Whatever he’s doing, colleges have taken notice. Although Williams hasn’t received any official offers, schools like UTEP and NAU have shown plenty of interest. Already a solid student in the classroom, he’s aligned himself to be the first member of his family to attend and graduate from a four-year college.

 

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.