SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) - Summerville High graduate Marquel Willis sits in his hotel room in Cedar Rapids, Iowa,waiting to play in a preseason football game and he knows how lucky he is.
Willis, who played for Coastal Carolina, is still playing the game he loves, he's getting paid for it, and he's still making a living doing it.
"Obviously, my goal is staying healthy. I just want to help the team whatever that entails whether it is catching balls or playing a role," he said.
Willis finished his career atCoastal Carolina with the same dream as many college football players – to playing the NFL. It hasn't worked out for Willis, but it hasn't deterred him from continuing to play the sport he loves.
Last year, he signed with the GreenBay Blizzard in the Indoor Football League. He made the long drive fromSummerville to Wisconsin, only to get hurt and miss most of the season.
"The goal was to get film. Everyone is trying to move on up. Nobody wants to stay in this league. It's not a bad league but the ultimate goal is to move up," Willis said.
He didn't get that chance last year.He didn't give up. Willis came back home, worked side jobs, never gave up on his dream.
"I was in Myrtle Beach working outland waiting to hear from outdoor leagues. I never heard so I got in touch with the coach in Green Bay. He talked to me about possibly coming back. I hadn't had a lot of opportunities to play but he thought I could do well in the league,he asked me to come back up," he said.
Willis is back and he's riding the bus all over this country. His team plays games in South Dakota, Texas,Illinois, Wyoming, and Iowa. The road trips show him the country; the home games in Green Bay show him what it's like to be a professional football player.
"That is one of the things I love about the city. They take care of us really well, enjoy coming to games. Once the Packers season is over, this is their football and people love football.They just want to be around for us. We're more accessible than the Packers players so we have a close relationship with people in the city," said Willis.
He is a professional football player, still chasing the dream of being an NFL player. The Summerville native has no complaints, well, maybe just one.
"It is pretty cold in Green Bay," he said.
Good thing he plays football indoors.