Jones High lineman Duaron Williams has blossomed under the guidance of his good friend and football coach Kenard Lang, who is in his third year at Jones.

Jones High lineman Duaron Williams has blossomed under the guidance of his good friend and football coach Kenard Lang, who is in his third year at Jones. (CHRIS HAYS/ORLANDO SENTINEL / October 19, 2010)

June 22nd was one of the best days of 15-year-old Duaron Williams' young life.

It was Fathers Day, and for Williams, that day had always taken on a significantly deeper importance to him since his father Charles Allen Williams, 43, died of a heart attack in 2001. Duaron was 8 years old.

On this Fathers Day, Duaron stood proud after being named the top 2012 offensive lineman at the Schumann's regional Ultimate 100 National Underclassman Combine in Atlanta.

He knew his father would be proud and it all gave Duaron a bigger sense of pride having earned the honor on Father's Day. But he couldn't call his father. Couldn't discuss what he had accomplished like many other campers and their fathers could that day.

He did, however, have a phone call to make. Kenard Lang came into Duaron Williams' life just before Charles had his heart attack. And he would be there, from then after.

"He told me he was really proud of me and nothing can stop me except myself," Williams said.

The NFL star



Duaron says he's known his Orlando Jones High School football coach since he was "knee-high to a grasshopper."

It's a clichéd yet humorous analogy coming from the 6-foot-4 and 280-pound lineman.

It's not hard, however, to imagine Williams standing "knee-high" to Lang. When the two met, Lang was an NFL star and Williams was a kindergarten-aged bible schooler. They attended the same church and the two formed a friendship that they would rekindle each time Lang returned during the NFL offseasons.

Lang has always come back. Orlando is home.

He starred at Evans High in the early-80s under current Edgewater coach Bill Gierke. He lettered in three sports at Evans, but it was football that got him a scholarship to the University of Miami.

Lang was a star for the Hurricanes, earning Big East rookie of the year honors in 1994, and then All-Big East honors the two succeeding years before leaving early to enter the NFL.

He was selected in the first round as the No. 17 pick in the 1997 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins and played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Redskins, Browns and Broncos. His last year on the field was 2006 in Denver.

"All the kids looked up to him because he was in the NFL," Duaron's mother Angela Williams remembers. "That drew the attention right there and everybody wanted to talk to him. He would always encourage all the kids about getting an education."

Father figure



Williams relished church Sundays when Lang was in town. The NFL star was nothing more than a plate donator to the rest of the congregation, just like them, the members of the New Covenant Baptist Church of Orlando. But for Williams, he was a whole lot more.

"I started attending the church when I was four years old," said Duaron. "So he's known me since about then and all during his NFL years he served as a role model for me, a model of what I wanted to become in life."

Back then, Williams was almost too young to understand the stature of his church friend's NFL stardom. What he saw was a big man who he knew played football, but a man who also stressed values and was always helping others.