FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Former Bulldog wide receiver Paul Williams caught 72 passes and 8 touchdowns over his four-year college career, and still holds the Fresno State record for longest catch in Bulldog history, a 98-yarder for a touchdown against Boise State in 2005.
He was later drafted in the 3rd round (80th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Tennesee Titans, and had a brief NFL career.
But these days, he is more well-known for something else.
“I am the person formerly known as Paul Williams,” says a smiling Paul. “I am Lynn Williams’ uncle officially now.”
That’s what happens when your niece is Lynn Williams, an emerging soccer star for the U.S. Women’s National Team, who just helped the Americans win a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
“So my brother Dave (Lynn’s father) is about 17 years older than me, so my relationship with Lynn has always been more like brother-sister,” says Paul. “So to see your little sibling do that, and surpass anything you’ve ever done, and be on the world stage, it’s surreal, and you’re just so proud.”
Paul’s niece may be dominating the family headlines, but if you head to a Fresno City College football practice, it’s pretty clear Uncle Paul is still a pretty big deal, especially in the eyes of the football players he is now coaching at Fresno City College.
“It’s pretty wild. My dad Paris Gaines, actually played with coach Williams,” says Paris’ son Darrien Gaines, a Buchanan High School product, who is a freshman wide receiver for the Rams. “So I kind of know him, but to have him out here, and to have the NFL experience, it goes a long way.”
Paul was hired as the program’s new wide receivers coach by Rams head coach Tony Caviglia last year, but this will be his first season as an assistant on the field with the Rams, after last season was canceled because of COVID.
“He’s a leader. He makes people around him better,” says Caviglia. “He wants to help people reach their dreams and their goals.”
It was an easy decision for Caviglia to hire Paul, considering Paul was recommended for the job by his older brother J.D., a former Bulldog and NFL defensive back, who is currently an assistant coach in charge of the defensive backs and the pass defense at Fresno state.
“My brother J.D. was up here doing some recruiting, and talking to the coaches,” says Paul, recalling how he got the job at Fresno City. “Tony kind of mentioned (he) needed a receiver coach, and J.D. was like, ‘well, I have a brother who was a receiver.’ Tony gave me a call and the rest is history.”
Caviglia describes Paul as a “quality human being,” who has many of the qualities of a terrific coach, including patience, perhaps fostered by his other job as a special needs teacher at Eaton Elementary in Fresno.
And it seems logical that having J.D. and Paul coaching at Fresno state and Fresno City respectively, will only be a good thing for both schools.
“It helps our program a lot,” says Rams freshman receiver Sean Kelly, who played quarterback at Clovis East High School. “It definitely helps us, it gives us an advantage with recruiting, with connections, to have people that played at that level. It’s definitely a great opportunity for us.”