Today’s athletes defy simple ‘divisional’ qualifications


Brandon Williams continues to dominate the line of scrimmage, previously for Missouri Southern and now in the NFL. Just another example of the growing small-school success stories.

Cody Lee, Staff Writer

When fans think of professional sports they think of famous players that come from big name schools such as Cam Newton from the University of Auburn, Kevin Durant from the University of Texas, or David Price from Vanderbilt University. 

If people were asked where a guy like Danny Woodhead played his college football or what school Scottie Pippen came from before he teamed up with some guy named Michael Jordan to win multiple NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls most people would have no clue. 

Fun fact, they came from Division II schools. They took the path less traveled to professional sports. There has been a large number of athletes who have came from Division II programs that beat the odds and showed that they could compete with the highly touted Division I players. 

Most people from the Joplin area are aware of Brandon Williams, who was a standout right here for the Missouri Southern football team, who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens. 

There is also John Brown, a solid receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, who hails from Pittsburgh State University. 

Both of those players are better then average players in the NFL now but before their college careers began there is no way that anyone could have predicted that they would come out of their respective schools and eventually have the success that they have had against the best football players in the world. 

The real question here is what’s the difference between Division I and Division II programs in the terms of their sports teams? Why are there so many more Division I athletes drafted every year? 

The answer is simple: if you are playing a Division I sport you are facing better competition on a daily basis. That is not to say that sometimes in Division II you will play against somebody that has the ability to play at a higher level, it’s just that the average athlete is better in Division I than at the Division II level. 

None of that means that as an athlete you have to play at a Division I school to become a future superstar but based on past professional drafts it really helps coming from a prestigious school.