HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Purdue University is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive southwest from Fort Wayne, Ind., where Marshall punter Tyler Williams attended R. Nelson Snider High School.
It might as well have been a world away.
When Williams takes the field with the Thundering Herd against Purdue at 3:15 p.m. Saturday (Big Ten Network), he'll line up against a team that, despite the short distance, didn't offer him a scholarship out of high school.
But the Boilermakers weren't special. Neither did Indiana. Or Ball State. Or Indiana State. Or anyone else, for that matter.
The Herd's walk-on true freshman punter is fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision averaging 47.53 yards a punt. And he admits he'll walk into Saturday's game with a chip on his shoulder, just like he walks into every college game he plays.
"I'm not going to lie," he said. "There's a little bit of 'I'll prove you wrong' with people who say you're not good enough or you're not a Division I punter. You always have that little chip that says, 'We'll see. I'll show you.' I've always known I could. I wouldn't have pushed myself to get to this level if I didn't know I could do it."
It wasn't like Williams was a complete unknown at Snider. He was a first-team all-conference and all-Indiana selection as a senior, averaging 39.2 yards a punt. That's after a junior season averaging 34.5 yards a punt.
Yet he emailed every FBS and FCS school in the country out of high school, and no one nibbled.
Was it that he didn't participate in the kicking camps that offer extra exposure? Was it the idea that, as Williams said, southern schools recruit south and northern schools recruit south? Who knows? But Williams was determined to land on a Division I roster.
"I knew I had a Division I leg and that's all I was going for," Williams said.
He decided to head south, spending a season at Atlanta Sports Academy, which is where he got the invitation to walk on to Marshall. He arrived in January, but a shaky start disguised the ability he'd show later.