Blake Williams had no problem with getting little sleep Sunday night.
After all, Williams — the former Romeo all-state defensive end — was set to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the White House on Monday to meet President Donald Trump to celebrate North Dakota State’s national football championship.
Sure, FBS national champions take annual visits to the White House to meet the president every year, but that can’t be said for FCS champs.
In fact, the word around NDSU in Fargo was, “maybe if we win the seventh national title in the last eight years we’ll get a White House invite. That was the joke around here, and now it’s actually come into fruition, so it’s pretty cool,” Williams said Sunday while getting ready for the dream trip.
“I’m really excited about it. I’ve never been to D.C. I know all the guys are excited about it too, especially the seniors. We were obviously surprised by it. You know, it’s been kind of a running joke, but at the same time so cool. We’ve kind of been on a little bit of a special run, but FCS teams rarely get an invite.”
It will be a whirlwind trip for Williams and his teammates, as it took a flight out of Fargo at 2:30 a.m. and were expected to return at 11 p.m.
NDSU won five straight FCS championships from 2011-15, some of them with Carson Wentz — No. 2 overall pick by the Eagles in 2016 NFL Draft — at quarterback, but never received an invitation from the White House. NDSU defeated Eastern Washington 38-24 back in January to give it a record seven FCS titles, one more than Georgia Southern.
So, is Williams a Democrat or Republican, or does he just stay away from politics?
“Nah, I am not a Republican, Democrat, anything," he said. "I don’t get involved in any of it really. Don’t follow politics much at all, just not my thing. But, I know we have guys on the team who sit on both sides, obviously being in North Dakota it leans much more right.
“We still have guys on the team who are Democrats and have those liberal viewpoints, but I know that everyone is going. No one is taking a ‘Thanks but no thanks,’ stance. It’s such a great opportunity for all of us. This will never happen again for any of us. It’s just so cool whether you love, hate (Trump); we all appreciate the opportunity that he gave us by inviting us.”
Williams came to North Dakota State at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, but the coaches wanted him to play defensive tackle, so he didn’t see the field for the first two years while putting on more than 70 pounds, then played sparingly in 2016 before being an impact player the last two seasons.
“I spent my first year just gaining weight, and pretty much the same thing my second year because you can’t put on all that weight really fast or it’s just going to be fat," Williams said. "It took me two years to see the field, then my third year I became a rotational guy. I’ve been going back and forth, being a starter my last two years and it’s been a lot of fun. We have the best strength and conditioning coach (Jim Kramer) in the country, and he really helped me out.”
Williams loves Fargo and decided to remain in the city as a professional. He earned a finance degree and is now working as an insurance agent.
“Fargo’s awesome," Williams said. "Probably most people in Michigan only know it for the movie, and the movie takes place in Fargo for the start of it, then the rest filmed in Minnesota. I took a job out here because I love Fargo so much. It’s the perfect size where we don’t sit in traffic all day. Sure, it’s crazy cold, but everyone cares about the community … 20,000 fans come out every game to watch us play.”