January 18, 2012
Jamaal Williams is the Intimidator
BYU running back commit Jamaal Williams says he was impressed and intimidated when he made his official visit to BYU this past weekend when the program hosted some dozen-and-a-half players, most of whom had already committed to BYU.
"They we're real cool people. Some of them were a lot bigger than me," says the 6-2, 193-pound back from Summit High School in Fontana, California. "So I felt intimidated."
It didn't help that he was on the same flight as another BYU commit, towering lineman Austin Hoyt. "He's big; he's like 6-7. I got to know him though, so he's like my big teddy bear now,' Williams joked.
Though he might have been intimidated at first, his future teammates didn't know it. By all accounts from other attendees over the weekend, Williams was the life of the party.
"It felt natural, because usually when I first meet people I don't talk. But these are a just a bunch of good guys that I get to come in with."
His head coach at Summit, Tony Barile, also says that Jamaal was a big hit with his future teammates. "He told me he was out there dancing and having a good time and the kids all seemed to enjoy it," Barile explains.
His host for the weekend was none other than BYU star linebacker Kyle Van Noy, and Jamaal says the two hit it off. "Once I go up there permanently, I know I will be hanging out with him."
While Jamaal may have felt intimated this past weekend in Provo, he's the one that has intimidated on the football fields in Southern California this past season. Barile says his star running back's style can be best described as "violent".
"If I had to come up with a word, it would be 'violent'. He's a very violent runner -- and this is something that might have to change at the college level or he may just have to get bigger or stronger -- but he likes to run people over. He does not shy away from contact at all. He's going to lower his shoulder and get the yards he needs."
Barile points out that Williams is young for a senior and should be able to put on size as he matures and gets into the nutrition and strength and conditioning programs at BYU. Something that should help his physical style translated to the college level.
"He's 16 or 17 years old and started the season for us at 198 pounds, and that's without an ounce of fat on him. When he gets up there with the training table and everything, I have the feeling he'll be at 215 before you know it."
No play better exemplifies Jamaal's violent style of play than when Summit traveled to take on Murrieta Mesa in game five of the season. During that game, he was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet personal foul penalty as a ball carrier when he ran over a would-be tackler. Eventually the referees admitted to Barile that they had blown the call.
"He was just so violent that the referee was taken aback by it. But it was the first time that I've ever head of that," says Barile.
"That's the kind of violence he shows when he's running the ball. I think sometimes everybody just goes "Oooohhh
" and you don't really know what to do because it looks like somebody is going to get hurt when he runs with the ball."
Williams reports a forty-time of 4.5 seconds and a 335-pound max in the bench press. His coach can vouch for his speed and strength.
"Even from his junior to senior season he's really increased his speed. So he'll make a move now and be able to put it into the next gear and really take off. We've also gotten him to lower his pad level when he goes through the hole."
Behind Jamaal's 1,251 rushing yards, 8.8-yard-per-carry average and 22 touchdowns, the SkyHawks finished the 2011 season at 13-1 and captured the Southern Section CIF East Division state title in the just the school's sixth year of existence.
He was tabbed as the CIF Co-MVP along with his teammate, quarterback Bernard Porter. And although he reached his goal of rushing for over a 1,000 yards and helping his team win a state championship, he says that those accomplishments are just the spring board for his college career.
"This chapter in my life is completed and I'm still hungry for more," Jamaal says with confidence.
As a non-LDS student-athlete, Williams says that he was attracted to BYU because of the school's honor code. He had the opportunity to go elsewhere, holding scholarship offers from Utah, Boise State and San Diego State, but felt like BYU was different from other schools that were recruiting him.
"I wanted to go to a place with people that have the same mindset as me, and not doing anything negative on our way to a BCS national championship. The campus is something like I've never seen before. It's big. It's nice, and the place is clean. Everybody is doing what they need to do to graduate.
"When I went up there on my unofficial (visit) this year, coach Mendenhall was talking about how important it is to get your education. I was really drawn to that."
Williams' connection to BYU is former Cougar defensive back Tony Crutchfield, who played for LaVell Edwards from 1987 to 1991 and serves as the defensive coordinator at Summit. Williams reminded Crutchfield of another Jamal that he played with at BYU, Jamal Willis. Tony put Williams in touch with BYU coaches and the rest is history.
Barile says that he is confident that Jamaal will fit in well in Provo when he arrives this summer.
"Jamaal was raised in a very good household with a lot of support. He's young as a senior, but he has done everything he has needed to do. He took care of his grades early on and made sure that he was in the right classes, so he didn't have to worry about grades at all - in fact he is a very good student.
"What Jamaal told me that he likes best about BYU, was the fact that he's going to a place that the guys aren't worried about where's the next party, they're not worried about all the other things.
"At BYU they are worried about education and football, and that's really what he wanted to do. He was always so concerned when other guys on our team were talking about parties and girls and everything else. He wanted to make sure that we were winning football games first. So that's where his mind is at.
"He'll do a great job of fitting in wherever he goes. He's not going to talk too much at first, but what he's going to do is lead by example. It will be interesting to see the dynamic and how he fits in with older guys, but I have a feeling that a couple of guys (at BYU) will like his work ethic and like his attitude and probably take him under their wing and really do well with him."
Barile also says that Jamaal's ability to catch passes out of the backfield should help him find his way onto the field at BYU as well.
"He was huge force for us out of the backfield in the passing game. We threw a number of screens and and a few swing passes to him this year and he made a lot yards out of them. So he was a big asset for us, and every very time he would turn those passes into big gains for us.
"I believe wholeheartedly in Jamaal. He's going to go up and put the time and effort in and do what he needs to do to fit in. And if anyone is going to put the work in, he will."
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