For Jamar Williams Academics Come Before Football

The title "Student-Athlete" has sadly become one of the biggest oxymoron's in college athletics. Many schools have shown little regard to the academics of its athletes, and several players across the nation don't concentrate on anything else other than their sport. However, in recent years ASU's Athletic Department has made huge strides in emphasizing academics, and linebacker Jamar Williams, a four-year honor roll student, will hardly do anything to reverse this positive trend in Tempe.

"Academics are number one before Football and everything else." Says the National Honor Society member. "When I go to college, I need to take care of that (academics) before I take care of Football. Education will last you forever. Football won't." Williams, who had one point was committed to Duke because of its academic reputation, made the switch to ASU largely because of his desired college major. "Once I committed (to Duke), I was so content with my decision I thought that was it. But then the more I sat down and thought about all about the options, the more doubts I had. My coach told me that when I decide what school I want to go to, I should think about what I want to major in. Duke doesn't have an undergraduate business school, and Arizona State has a great undergraduate school, as well as a great graduate business school. So that's what really made me want to go and see what ASU had to offer."

Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Guy started recruiting the Houston Touchdown Club Defensive Player of the Year at the end of his junior season. "Coach Guy saw me first in spring training my junior year. He liked me a lot, but didn't offer me on the spot or anything like that. I already had a lot of schools that offered me early (Colorado, Kansas St., Kansas, Arizona, Texas A&M, Duke among others) …As the Football season started more and more schools started offering me, and it started getting hectic." When you listen to the ASU freshman to-be, you get a sense that unlike many other star high school players, he didn't like to bask in the limelight of recruiting. "My two visits were to Duke and Kansas State. I took those two visits in back to back weeks, and it just was too much. They keep you real busy during those visits... After those two visits, I just got tired of the whole recruiting process. It really weighs you down. At that my point I just decided to commit to Duke."

Even though the linebacker, who was a member of the All-Greater Houston team, was committed to the Blue Devils, it was another type of Devil that was always in his thoughts. "I always in the back of mind was thinking of Adam Archuleta, and that's why I was maybe inching towards Arizona State. Coach Koetter didn't call me much during the season, and I wasn't sure how interested ASU was. So I called the coaches up, and then they called me a lot asking me to come for a visit. I found out later that they had already recruited two linebackers, but one of them was going to be converted to a fullback (Mike Talbot), so they were interested in me visiting. I told myself that if Duke were really the school for me, then visiting ASU wouldn't matter. But when I went to ASU I knew that was the place for me. I had to de-commit from Duke." And what was so special about that visit? Williams recalls: "I only went there for a one day visit in early January. I thought it was gonna be real hot. But it was kinda cold. It was real nice. It was nice to see the stadium and the facilities and how they all were developing. I got to talk to the players. I had a great host in Riccardo Stewart. During the visit I told them that this was the place for me, but I wanted to talk to my parents. When I came home on Sunday, the coaches were there in my house about two hours later. I committed to ASU that night"

Williams' senior season statistics were quite remarkable. They included 135 tackles, 43 tackles for loss, five blocked punts, 13 forced fumbles, and two defensive touchdowns. When we asked him about his skills he replied: "I have more speed and quickness than big size. That's why I wanted to play in the Pac-10 and not the Big 12. I look at someone like Archuleta and how he played, and I'm even bigger than him in size. That's what really impressed me about ASU is that I could play there even if I wasn't the biggest player on the field. I need to learn how to play College defense, and how to attack blockers. I got to get a little bigger and stronger. I don't see too may weaknesses in my game, but everybody has them." It should be noted that he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds and has a 32-inch vertical jump.

While ASU's 4-2-5 defensive scheme may be attractive when recruiting safeties, it can be a hindrance when recruiting for linebackers, since that position calls for two rather than three players to line up on each down. Jamar Williams doesn't mind that predicament. "When I heard about ASU running the 4-2-5 scheme, it was real interesting to me. My high school's defensive coach used a lot of schemes, and we did play the 4-2-5 in nickel situations. So I understand how the defense is. If you got two good linebackers in this scheme, it's really hard to get around from the outside. You don't have a run stopper in the middle, but if you have good safeties that do their job, you can stop teams from running on you. I think it's a great defense that can work…I can see that maybe linebackers don't like this defense, because there's always two and not three linebackers playing on each down. I'm going into this year knowing that I'll play the best position where I can help the team, whether it's linebacker or safety. Wherever they put me that's where I'm gonna go." Rumor is that the Langham Creek high school star is a strong candidate not to redshirt this year. Williams is ready for any scenario. "I know the coaches believe in me and know that I can play well, so I'm not worried about playing time. I'm just gonna go out there and play, and we'll see what happens. ASU was talking about playing right away, and coach Guy said there's a chance for that. So if I can handle it, I'm gonna go out there and do my best. If I'm not ready, I have no problem sitting out and getting used to college life... I'm coming to Tempe July 20th. I want to get some early work on techniques, and work out in the weight room. I need to get ready for Nebraska"!

In today's landscape of college sports, the combination of a scholar student and a standout athlete is as common as a snowy day in Tempe. For that reason alone, the maroon and gold faithful should be delighted to land the services of Jamar Williams. Not only will he bolster a linebacker core that underachieved last year, but he will also likely to serve as another fine example of the academic achievements of Arizona State's athletes. Who said there's no such thing anymore as a Student-Athlete…?

Recruit Profile

Name

Jamar Williams

High School

Langham Creek HS, Houston, TX

Position

LB (Played fullback too)

Height

6-2

Weight

215

Date of Birth

6/14/84

Hometown

Brooklyn, NY

Nickname

Jay

Favorite TV Show

SportsCenter

Favorite Movie

The Program

Favorite Singer

Jay Z

Favorite Food

Pizza

Favorite Drink

Ice Tea

Favorite Athlete

Ray Lewis

Favorite Pro Team

Los Angeles Lakers

Person you most admire

My mom. She went through a lot, and still raised me well. She made me the person that I am.

First Football Memory

When I moved to Houston at the age of 8, my friend knocked on the door and asked me if I wanted to play Football. I never played much Football in New York, just Basketball. So I went and played, and my team lost by 35 points. But I just remembering having so much fun then, and I liked Football ever since.

One Thing most people don't know about me

Sometimes I present myself real serious, but I do like to joke around and have a lot of fun.

Why did you choose ASU?

Coach Guy. I like him a lot, and I'm happy he'll be my position coach.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

If not in the NFL, I'd love to be working in a Fortune 500 company. (Jamar plans to major in Sports Marketing.)

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