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Dealing Cards: Williams can hoop, Johnson is a fan and how Baker became Budda

TEMPE, Ariz. — In Arizona ahead of rookie minicamp, Chad Williams on Thursday talked about his ability to get good position on defensive backs in order to go and get the football.

“I always had good ball skills, ever since I was I’ve been little,” he said. “A lot of you guys might not know, I played basketball in high school.

“We won state — I was state championship MVP in basketball — so I can dunk, rebounds — I’m grabbing rebounds — so when that football’s in the air, it kind of looks like a rebound and I’ll outjump the guy.”

Williams added he’s worked on his positioning for a long time, which has allowed him to make that a strength.

And, he was not kidding about his hoops prowess.

According to the New Orleans Advocate, on March 8, 2013, Williams scored 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in leading Madison Prep to a 53-37 win over Simsboro in the Class B boys basketball title game. Williams indeed was given the game’s Outstanding Player award and even then, a quote from that night seemed to foreshadow one of his gridiron attributes.

“I tried to get to every 50-50 ball and I tried to get to everything off the glass,” Williams said in 2013. “It (state title) just feels awesome. It feels like everything we’ve worked for, all the blood, sweat and tears and all the early, early practices in the morning have paid off.”

Williams was already committed to Grambling State for football, however, and it’s probably safe to say he made the right choice. The Cardinals’ third-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the former shooting guard said he has no plans on playing basketball again anytime soon.

Asked why he chose football over hoops, Williams extended one finger, touched the table in front of him, and said, “In basketball, you do this it’s a foul.”

That was not the only reason.

“I’ve been a football guy my whole life,” he added. “Football’s actually the first thing I married; basketball’s kind of like on the side. Football’s just my life — it’s been what I’ve done since I was little.

“First sport I ever played and when I played football for the first time, I fell in love with it. Football, is just, that’s me.”

Dorian Johnson, once a fan and now a player

It’s true that unlike, say, 20 years ago, it is not all that uncommon to run into people who happen to be Cardinals fans.

While one of the NFL’s bottom-tier franchises in the 90s, the last decade-plus has seen them rise to the ranks of, while not elite, a good, quality organization that has won a good many games.

Still, it was a bit surprising when Dorian Johnson, the lineman from Pitt the Cardinals chose in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, said he was a fan of the team he now plays for growing up.

“I used to be really heavy into playing Madden, I think it was Madden 06,” Johnson explained. “So, like, the team that I’d always end up with, like my Superstar Career mode, was always the Cardinals — I always did the best with them.

“So, like ever since then I started; and Larry Fitzgerald being a Pitt guy, too.”

So, about being called ‘Budda’

In the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cardinals traded up in order to draft Budda Baker out of Washington.

Of course, Budda is not actually the player’s name.

Baker’s given name is Bishard, though few know him by that moniker.

So, how did “Budda” come about?

“It stuck when I was a real, real young kid, when I was a baby,” he said. “When I was little, I was fat and have some Japanese in me, so my eyes are kind of slanted, so they called me a little Budda.

“That stuck all the way through all types of sports, my soccer and all types of stuff.”

Baker is not sure who to credit for the nickname, his mother or his aunt, because they each like to talk about it.

As for when it became the name people know him by, Baker said second grade.

“People in high school thought I had a twin brother named Bishard because a lot of people knew me as Budda, but it was funny,” he said.

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