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story.lead_photo.caption Ryan Williams

After capping off his collegiate career with an NAIA All-America honorable mention selection, John Brown University's Ryan Williams signed a professional contract with the New Mexico United, the program's first-ever domestic professional contract, the emerging franchise announced on Wednesday.

Forming in just the past year, New Mexico United prepares for its first season in the USL Championship in 2019, opening the campaign against Fresno FC on March 9 in Albuquerque. Williams is one of 13 confirmed offseason signings for the newly formed club, and becomes the second player in United franchise history to sign straight out of college.

"This is a great step for Ryan in his pursuit of playing soccer at a high level," JBU head coach Brenton Benware said. "He's been an integral part of our team's successes at JBU, and he's certainly added so much to our program as a team captain and leader. We celebrate Ryan in his new endeavor to play for New Mexico United."

Spanning 73 collegiate contests, Williams finished his Golden Eagle career with 27 goals and 37 assists (91 points). Boasting the program's highest career point total since 2001 (Leo Peirano), Williams' 37 assists finished tied for second all-time, just one shy of Terry Brown's record of 38, set in 1993.

"I am grateful to start my professional career at New Mexico United," Williams said. "I am excited for the opportunities to learn, because I know I will be surrounded by players who are experienced in the professional environment, a great coaching staff, and a great culture. Most of all, I'm excited to bring my abilities and help further the team the best I can."

For the last three seasons, Williams has suited up for the Charlotte Eagles, of USL League 2, from 2016-2018, where the program captured its first championship in 2017. The native Hawaiian finished No. 16 of the USL's League Two 2017 Top 50 Prospects.

"I was able to watch Ryan during his time with the Charlotte Eagles, when he helped lead them to the League Two Championship in 2017," said New Mexico United head coach Troy Lesesne. "He's a young, hard-working player that possesses a high level of intelligence for the game. I'm looking forward to working with him and seeing him take the next step in his career with our club."

Williams was also named the Sooner Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Year as a senior, and also landed All-Academic Team and Commissioner's Honor Roll accolades during his JBU career.

Sports on 01/13/2019

Print Headline: Williams signs professional soccer contract

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