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Posted on Mon, May 6, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Ex-NFL, Willow Run player Lamanzer Williams hired as Ypsilanti Community Schools athletic director

By Kyle Austin

The newly formed Ypsilanti Community School District is launching its athletic program by bringing back one of the area’s most prominent former players.


Lamanzer Williams

Lamanzer Williams, a 1993 Willow Run graduate who went on to become an All-American college football player and went on to play in the NFL, has accepted the position of athletic director and assistant principal at YCS, the district announced Monday.

Williams has spent the last 13 years coaching football at multiple Michigan high schools and the last two as an athletic director, most recently at Holland High School in 2012.

“It’s really a huge thing, I consider it a dream job,” Williams said. “It’s athletic director slash assistant principal, and just being able to be instrumental and being a major piece of bringing the district back to athletic dominance.”

Williams was hired after the district reviewed several internal candidates, including both current athletic directors at Ypsilanti and Willow Run, Matt Seidl and Jon Zajac. YCS is being formed from a merger between the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts.

“We had many fine candidates for the position but we felt that Mr. Williams possessed an edge with his education and experience, that spans from being a professional athlete to a high school dean,” Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel said in a statement. “He has many strong qualities that will make him a good fit for the type of athletic program we plan to build at Ypsilanti Community Schools.”

One of Williams’ first task will be getting coaches hired for the fall sports, with official practices beginning in about three months. Willow Run athletic director Seidl said he and Ypsilanti High School athletic director Zajac chaired committees that interviewed internal coaching candidates last week and passed on recommendations to Menzel.

None of those hires will be of more importance than for the football program, and Williams didn’t rule himself out as a possible candidate for that job.


Lamanzer Williams coaches at a football camp at Willow Run in 2008. file

“Right now, it’s sort of up in the air,” Williams said. “I know we wanted to give all of our internal candidates the respect and the opportunity to be considered initially. I guess myself and the administrative staff would have to go through the applicants and decide if there’s someone that’s a good fit.”

But whether or not he’s coaching the program or not, Williams said he will take a strong interest in turning around a new combined football program formed from an Ypsilanti team that went 1-8 last year and a Willow Run team that went 2-7.

“Football is also going to be a huge breadwinner because of the amount of people it can attract,” Williams said. “I know our program has been on a steady decline, and so now we’re looking to turn that around."

One of the reasons for the decline of not only football but other Ypsilanti and Willow Run sports is the impending uncertainty regarding the merger, which was approved by voters in November.

Williams said the uncertainty of sports in the new Ypsilanti Community Schools has led multiple key athletes to transfer to neighboring districts for athletic reasons.

“It’s sort of been open season on our athletes,” Williams said. “All the surrounding communities have benefitted from that. What we have to do is advertise a brand and a systematic program where we can get our top athletes back, and not only get our top athletes back but attract the top athletes in the area.”

After graduating from Willow Run, Williams went on to become an All-American defensive lineman at Minnesota in 1997, and was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1998. He spent four seasons in the NFL and later played in Europe.

He returned to the area following his playing career, and began helping out with his old high school program.

After eight years helping at Willow Run, Williams spent two seasons as the head coach at Kalamazoo Central in 2008 and 2009, going 8-10 overall. After one season as an assistant in Muskegon, he spent the 2011 season as the athletic director and football coach in Inkster and the 2012 season as the dean and football coach at Holland.

While Williams’ last five years have included four different stops, he said this job is one he plans on staying in for a long time.

“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve come home to Ypsilanti every single weekend of every year,” Williams said. “It was just one of those things like ‘Wow, you will finally be here helping to fortify your community.’ I can relate to the kids, they have an idea of who I am, I’ve been around for years. I just felt like it was a perfect fit.”

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.


Cant Blieve itsgone

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Lamanzer is a great person. I attended school with him in the WR district since elementary. You will find that he is very personable and engaging. On top of that, he was one of the best athletes to ever come through Ypsilanti. Regardless to what level of professional sports he made it to, the fact is that he made it. How many former athletes from Ypsilanti can say that at all. Or, how many can say that they were an All American at a Big Ten University? Probably not many. In fact, I can only think of one and his name is Lamanzer Williams. Not only was an excellent athelte, but he did complete his undergrad degree. He would probably never boast, but he also has a Master's Degree and is working on a second Master's Degree. Lamanzer has deep roots in Ypsilant and time will tell that he is right for this job. He is what WR/Ypsilanti has been missing for a long time. He is somebody that acutally cares.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

Add Michael Bass to the pro football list.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

Tiffany ofili (2012 Olympics in track), Eric Ball (pro football), Marcus Bernard (pro football), James and Jason Lamar (pro football), only to name a few. I'm sure that other readers can add to the above list. This area has a rich academic and athletic history. Let us not self-deprecate.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Why was my post removed that stated Lamanzer Williams is not qualified for the position, Charles Ramsey was the 2nd external candidate, and all of the STINKS of impropriety?! Has any reporter done any true investigation outside of talking to Menzel? "Most prominent player:.....what a joke! Please investigate his removal from Willow Run and why Menzel hired an unqualified AD/AP!


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 7:36 a.m.

After reading most of this rubbish from some of you I'm shocked to call myself an Ypsilantian! One of our own who made it out of a bad community from a great family returns home for the dream job of his life and you throw shade immediately without giving the man a chance. Ypsi sports has been in the dumps for years and you don't want to give the hometown kid a chance! Sad. You asked what's his history with ypsi he grew up in the Willow run community any other questions go ask him instead of being a coward and belittling someone you don't know I'm sure he will have an open door policy


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:43 a.m.

To dwill42'; Sorry, but facts are facts and your record is your record. The leaders of this "NEW" school district can fool some of the people some of the time but this hire proves that they cannot fool all of the people.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:50 a.m.

Any parent that is serious about athletics at YCS find out for yourself and reach out to Mr. Williams. After I heard the rumors of his impending hire I tracked him down myself to find out who he was and what he was about. I'm not easily impressed, especially when it comes to this subject, but I liked what I heard from him.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:37 a.m.

Did he tell you that he wasn't planning on leaving? He said that to the people in Holland too. He may be a nice guy, but he is not the right person for the job. They passed on two people who have been in the community for years, who have led their respective athletic departments on the scraps left over by the bungling admins who got rehired, and then they hired a guy who is not qualified to even be the football coach. Another brilliant move by the three headed monster.

Tamara Craft Larson

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

I would rather have Mr. Zajac back. What a wonderful gym teacher he is. My son adores him. lol

Kyle Austin

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:50 p.m.

Here's the link to a follow-up that goes into the "targeted recruitment for an external search" and talks to ADs at Ypsilanti and Willow Run:

Kick the Can

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

Dear Ypsilanti Community Schools: Do not hire Lamanzer Williams. Look at his coaching record and some of the problems he has had in other school districts. Correct the problem before it is too late! Hiring him will be the kiss of death for your athletic program.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

I would be offended if I were a parent living in this district. He may be a great guy, but he is clearly not an administrator. It appears as though he has used his NFL bonfides to get many coaching jobs over the past number of years. The stuff off the fields is what the new district needs right now, not a coach who does not appear qualified to be a principal.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:28 p.m.

I can't believe the new district did not hire Mr. Seidl. He has more experience than Mr.Williams in all areas, coaching, teaching, working with the Ypsilanti community, everything! Every one knows Mr. Seidl has what it takes to lead the athletic dept. There must be more to this, it doesn't add up!


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

This is GREAT news for the new school district! I'll bet some athletes who left are going to reconsider their decisions! Lamanzer will attract a lot of attention and he'll bring in the athletes needed to put this new football team on the map! Beware all you neighboring districts! The new football team will soon be a force to be reckoned with!


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:34 a.m.

Like the 0-9 Holland Dutch he coached last year?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

Are you SERIOUS!!

Macks Pizza

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

So this person will become AD, Asst Principal and possible Head Football coach....Humm....Does he have a masters degree. What experience does he have when doing teacher evaluations which ALL Asst. Principals share in doing? Has he ever taught in a classroom? Not good to have AD in charge of their own sport. Does not seem like this person will be effective in either positions. Very foolish way to start out a new school community. The critics will be out forever. You have set this man up for failure.

Kyle Austin

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

The news release we were sent says that Williams "has degrees from Eastern Michigan University, Concordia Chicago University, and an Educational Leadership degree and Principal Certificate from Grand Valley State University."

Catherine Wright

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

Wow. This is not exciting news at all. I do not know Mr. Williams but in my field if an applicant came in with 4 jobs in the past 5 years on their resume, I wouldn't even consider them for a position. Let alone Athletic Director for a NEW school district AND assistant principal AND possible football coach? With that track record? Wow. To say the


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:32 a.m.

Quote from when he was hired at Holland. "I have moved around a lot, but that stops here," Williams said. "We are looking to build the program. I look forward to years down the road when the learning curve is slight." He then went 0-9, after a successful run by the previous coach, and bailed for the seemingly endless amount of money YCS has for non-teaching staff members.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

It is a stretch to call him an "NFL Player" unless the intent is to be super technical in that he did in fact "appear" in two actual nfl games. Yes only two. He was probably on the practice squad for a few years until he used that eligibility up. Not that there is anything wrong with that - but to call him an "NFL Player" and credit that as one of the key reasons for hiring him ... that is absurd. So the other internal candidates were passed over because of Lamanzer Williams' record? What record is that exactly? Two games in the nfl? Several seasons of assistant coaching? What else did he do during those years - did he go back and finish his degree at Minnesota? Does he have any education credentials? He had a losing record as a head coach the few times he's done that. And it looks like a series of one-year athetic director jobs. Why just one year at a time? How many times has he been let go? What is YCS trying to accomplish here? What is his tie with Willow Run? According to Pro Football Reference and Databasae, he was born in Arkansas. Does he have relatives in the area? If so, have any been involved in the hiring process at YCS, or in a position to influence this hiring? Hmnn.... This does look like an absurd hiring. But then, Menzel has been well-exposed recently in the YCS hiring debacle. So I suppose absurdity shouldn't be surprising.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:06 a.m.

That's fine, Justice4all ... but then call him an Ex-college standout who spent several years trying to land a spot in the NFL ... or, "a name that hopefully YCS athletes will recognize"... instead of what the headlines are saying, which is misleading. Again - the only reason I'm pointing this out, is because Sup Menzel indicated his NFL experience differentiated him from his fellow interviewers. And reality is, he was involved in an actual NFL game for literally minutes at the most - not games, or seasons, or whatever. The player's union doesn't consider someone like that to be a veteran or retired player - they don't even recognize players that play for a year or two, let alone a minute or two. Is it an accomplishment to *get* a job - or to do well at it? This is a key question that seems to confuse Mr. Menzel, the YCS board, and others. What has Williams been a *success* at, besides being a college football player? Where has he been doing well, and the district was sad when he departed to go elsewhere? Are you sure he wasn't let go in 4 of the last 5 years? This is a recurring pattern here. See Dedrick Martin. See Sharon Irvine. Your logic would label Dedrick Martin a success, because he *got the job*, or Williams because he *got the job*. And you might say Irvine was lesser because she didn't. And in each case - you'd be completely wrong.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 3:25 a.m.

He made the NFL, even if brief. That in itself is an accomplishment. What about his time at Minnesota? He's ranked as one of the top 5 Defensive players ever. If you're going to make an argument you have to at least share the other side. Your post made me google him for myself and this popped up.,+minnesota+football+player&source=bl&ots=MdqRGxZcdV&sig=X9pPh5srMFi30L_dJqAxcHo5Gqg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vnKIUbgEgqzLAf2zgPgD&ved=0CHkQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=lamanzer%20williams%2C%20minnesota%20football%20player&f=false

Kyle Austin

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

Rob, we'll have another story later this afternoon with more information on the hiring process. Williams is the first external hire for YCS, and it surprised some people within the district


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

I think he means, "the administrative staff and I" but could be wrong.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

This is not a good hire. I am sure there are much better candidates then this guy. They need someone that can focus and worry about all athletics. The talk of him being the football coach as well is to much. He has not faired to well coaching elsewhere, being a NFL player does not always translate to being a good coach. The program is in trouble already with this hire!