Football: Former Detroit Lions first-round draft pick named head coach at Pioneer

The Pioneer football program has turned to a former NFL first-round draft pick to take over as head football coach. Jimmy Williams Jr., who played 12 years in the NFL after getting drafted in the first round by the Detroit Lions, was named the new Pioneer varsity football coach last week.

Williams replaces Bill Bellers, head coach for four seasons and was well-liked by his players and staff, who stepped down for personal and family reasons.

“I strive to ensure all student-athletes understand that they are first a student and secondly an athlete and that they must excel in the classroom before they can excel on the football field,” said Williams in a statement released by the school. “I am a firm believer in coaching between the ears, and establishing relationships with student-athletes. This allows me to have influence over their lives to get them to accomplish something bigger than themselves – becoming champions.

“Coaches have a tremendous opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of the student athletes that they coach and I do not take that lightly or for granted, but instead understand what a gift it is.”

After a 12-year career in the NFL, Williams has spent the last 17 years coaching football at the high school and college level. He has coached collegiately at the University of Nebraska, Eastern Michigan University, Bowling Green State University, Western Michigan University, the University of Buffalo and Grand Valley State University.  He has been a high school head coach at Pontiac Central High School and has served as a defensive position coach and defensive coordinator at the college level.

A standout player and All-American at the University of Nebraska, Williams played for the Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers serving as team captain for each of his three NFL teams.

“Coach Williams will be working to transition into his new job and will be working on building his coaching staff; meeting with district leadership; attending district safety training; etc.,” said Pioneer Athletic Director Eve Claar. “He is excited to get to know his Pioneer football family and we are equally thrilled to welcome him on board as we embark on this new era.”