Football: Mike Williams steps down at Wharton — Dec. 7

Wharton’s Mike Williams said via Twitter message that he is leaving as coach after three seasons. 

Williams, the former Plant receiver who went on to star at Southern California and became a first round pick with the Detroit Lions, guided the Wildcats to three straight playoff berths, including a region final appearance in 2021. 

Williams said he has not made up his mind regarding his future in coaching. 

“We’ll see,” he said about a new job. “I haven’t rolled the ball on that yet.”

This was the second Hillsborough County head coaching job Williams has left in the past four years. 

In July of 2019, Williams left a head coaching job in California and applied at Middleton, in part because he was so moved by the death of incoming freshman Hezekiah B. Walters. 

Williams got the job and guided players still mourning the loss of one of their teammates to a 5-5 record, an impressive finish given the circumstances.

But after one season, Williams decided to leave the Tigers to take on another challenge at Wharton, a program that had won a combined 14 games from 2016-19 and had not made the playoffs since 2013.

The move was made largely because Williams planned on building a house within 5 miles of Wharton’s campus. He also wanted to have the opportunity to coach football in the highest classification in the state.

There was another head coaching position open back then that many assumed Williams would be interested in taking. Plant was still conducting a search to find a replacement for legendary coach Robert Weiner, who left to become the quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator at Toledo. Williams, though, was never interested in returning to his alma mater.

“I didn’t even apply,” he said at the time. 

At Wharton, Williams inherited a team that lost just 17 of the 71 players listed on the MaxPreps roster to graduation.

He helped develop players currently on the roster. And the success attracted the attention of others. 

In the offseason, several players transferred to Wharton, including running back Stacy Gage, one of the nation’s top recruits in the 2024 class. 

In three seasons, Williams went 24-8. 

This is the second area coaching move in as many days. On Tuesday, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer great Mike Alstott announced he was leaving Northside Christian. 

Williams’ resume was impressive, even before returning to Tampa. 

The former first-round pick of the Lions started coaching in the high school ranks in California after his seven-year NFL career ended in 2011. There have been several stops, all with diverse backgrounds. Williams coached middle schoolers in Brentwood, a swanky Los Angeles suburb, then took on jobs in Compton and Watts.

He also had several big-time coaches as references, including the Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll and former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow. In fact, Chow joined Williams’ staff when they coached together at Van Nuys, the school Williams left to come to Tampa.

Those experiences helped prepare Williams for his biggest challenge at Middleton and Wharton.

Now, he waits to see what his next challenge will be.