UND football adds Minnesota Gophers transfer linebacker
In a 2017 UND football season full of injuries, the inside linebacker position was perhaps the hardest hit.
On Tuesday, the Fighting Hawks received a shot in the arm to solidify that spot in 2018.
Minnesota Gophers inside linebacker Everett Williams will graduate transfer to UND and play his final season in Grand Forks.
The 6-foot-1, 244-pound Williams, of Mansfield, Texas, spent four seasons with the Gophers and graduated this past December with a degree in agricultural and food business management.
"I really want to perform well for the team and go out with a bang," said Williams, a two-time all-Big Ten Academic pick who plans to pursue a master's degree in business.
A key connection to UND for Williams was Fighting Hawks assistant coach Shawn Kostich, a former graduate assistant with the Gophers when the school was recruiting Williams.
Williams is the second Gophers transfer now on the UND roster. Running back James Johannesson, a Fargo native who ran for 248 yards and four touchdowns last season, also transferred to Grand Forks from Minneapolis.
"I was real close with James," Williams said. "He hosted me on my visit, and I already really knew him from the past."
Despite lofty preseason rankings, the Fighting Hawks finished 3-8 in 2017 during a campaign filled with injuries.
At inside linebacker, UND suffered season-ending injuries to expected starters Donnell Rodgers (hurt in Week 2) and Connor O'Brien (retired during spring ball). Top backup Cam Hunt missed the first half of the season and promising rookie Noah Larson redshirted when an injury derailed his progression in fall camp.
Those injuries helped UND give up 187.9 yards per game on the ground, a season after allowing just 91.3 rushing yards per game.
"We feel (Williams) can have an immediate impact on our roster at inside linebacker and on special teams," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "Not only are we adding a promising football player, but Everett exemplified what being a student-athlete is all about at Minnesota."
Williams appeared in 24 career games, including three starts at linebacker for the Gophers over three seasons. He finished his Minnesota career with 14 tackles and two pass break-ups.