YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown native Jaylen ‘Big’ Williams has signed a contract to play professional indoor football with the West Texas Warbirds.

But his journey to the pros has been anything but easy.

Watch the above video to hear from Williams.

Williams, an offensive lineman, played football at Ursuline from 2012-2013 and one season at Liberty in 2014.

Williams had to put his academic and athletic career on hold after being arrested his senior year.

“I got arrested for burglary and drug trafficking,” Williams said. “I didn’t have a senior year of football. I made a terrible mistake. I was real down on myself and was going through depression.”

Williams was sentenced to six months at the Warren County Juvenile Detention Center.

Once released, Williams promised his mother he would turn his life around.

“I promised her that once I got out of juvie that I was going to change, do something with my life, change my life, make her proud of me,” he said.

Williams kept that promise. He went back to school and graduated from The Academy of Urban Scholars in 2017.

He then attended Vermillion Community College in Ely, Minnesota, where he flourished on the field and in the classroom.

“I got a 3.7 GPA. I made the Dean’s List. I was All-Academic First Team. I was team captain, so I did a pretty good job,” Williams said.

After one season, Williams enrolled in the American International Academy, a prep school in Rhode Island.

This month, Williams signed his first professional contract to join the West Texas Warbirds of the Arena Football Association.

“I’m excited to just get down there, just leave Youngstown, get out of the cold and go into the hot weather,” Williams added. “I’m ready to start something new in my life.”

Through all the obstacles Williams has faced, two things have remained constant: his faith and his love of football.

“I can honestly say without God and football, I don’t know where I would be right now in my life,” he said. “I know I chose a rough life at first that I didn’t have to chose. My mom provided and everything, but I chose a life that could have lead to destruction and God saved me,” he said.

Williams will continue to train in the Valley before heading to Texas at the end of March.