Williams Ready For Next Challenges

Arkansas junior tailback and Texas native Jonathan Williams could possibly be capping his college career when he leads the Razorbacks (6-6) against Texas (6-6) in the AdvoCare Texas Bowl Dec. 29 in Houston and also took time to talk to his possible replacement and fellow Texan - Dallas Bishop Lynch's Rawleigh Williams - last weekend.

It seems somewhat appropriate that the last game of Arkansas junior tailback Jonathan Williams’ college football career could be in his native state of Texas against the University of Texas.

Williams, who rushed for 1,085 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season, and the Razorbacks (6-6) will battle the Longhorns (6-6) in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 29 in Houston at 8 p.m.

“It’s going to be really exciting, a team that obviously I grew up watching because I’m a Texan,” noted Williams, who was a star for Allen. “So, it’s going to be fun.”

It could be the last game of his Razorback career because Williams has submitted his paperwork to the NFL to see where he might be drafted.

He will then have a talk with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, who says paper work from the NFL is due back near the end of the month.

“Not really sure yet,” Williams said of what he might do. “Just waiting for the grade to come back, and honestly I’m waiting to talk to Coach B whenever he comes back from recruiting and off the road and everything comes back.”

Williams, who originally committed to Missouri before signing with Arkansas, admits to being pumped up when the bowl pairings were announced.

“I was excited,” Williams said. “That was one of the reasons I committed to Mizzou when I did at the time, because I wanted to play against Texas. That’s when all the Texas schools were in the Big 12. So, being able to play all three of them in one year is pretty cool.”

Williams has certainly had fun in Texas so far this season with 145 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-28 road win over Texas Tech and 95 yards and a score in a 35-28 overtime loss to Texas A&M at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“I get a little fired up to play in front of my family,” Williams said.

He is actively working to round up as many tickets at possible for the Texas Bowl.

“I mean, I wasn’t really able to get a whole lot for the A&M game, just because it was in Dallas and everybody wanted to go to that one, even if they lived far away,” Williams said. “This one, I’m trying to get a few.

“It’s going to be hard to get tickets for this one as well, just because it’s a bowl game and the Texans have a pretty good stadium, too," Williams added. “But I’m going to try my best.”

His possible replacement next season is another Texas tailback in Dallas Bishop Lynch’s Rawleigh Williams III, who rushed for nearly 3,000 yards this past high school season.

The two backs got a chance to talk this past weekend when the younger Williams took his official visit.

“We talked about everything,” Rawleigh Williams said. “He’s from Texas and we kind of talked about the transition from high school to college and what to expect when you get here from the coaches to the stye of offense that we play and playing in the SEC everyday and just different things about teammates.

“It was really cool because he kind of already put me under his wing already regardless if he’s going to be here or not and let me know what to expect,” the younger Williams added.

Because the Razorbacks and Longhorns ended their conference affiliation before Jonathan Williams was born, Williams does not have a lot of background on the rivalry between the programs.

But he’s beginning to learn how important it is to the older fans.

“I’m not real familiar with the rivalry,” Jonathan Williams said. “Growing up, I didn’t watch a whole bunch of Arkansas football, so I’m not too familiar. But I’ve seen the fans are pretty excited about it on Twitter and different social media websites, so think I’m just going to get on the bandwagon and hate UT as well.”

Williams, who rushed for 231 yards as a freshman and 900 as a sophomore, is thrilled to be going through bowl workouts for the first time in his career.

“It’s definitely huge for next year,” Williams said. “This time last year we were lifting weights and running around, and that helps as well, but the longer you can be on the football field and doing Xs and Os, it will pay off more."

Williams who had a career-high 153 yards against UAB this season, was recently selected to the All-SEC second-team.

“It’s pretty good,” Williams said. “If you’re not first, you’re last, in my opinion. So, I mean, I’m happy about it. Like I said, with everything, it’s a team effort. I get the recognition because of people blocking for me. I just thank them, thank the Lord.

“…It’s exciting, but it’s a team thing, Williams added. “So, even though I’m the one getting recognized, I’ve got a lot of good people blocking for me. That’s how I feel about it.”

Both he and sophomore Alex Collins (1,024 yards rushing) topped the 1,000-yard mark for Arkansas this season and Williams notes their relationship has gone from competitive to one of brotherly love.

“It’s definitely come along, a lot,” Williams said. “Definitely from when he first came in here as a recruit to where it is now. We just feed off of each other, every day, whether it’s in the meeting rooms, we’re watching film or if it’s out there on the football field. So, we’re definitely feeding off of each other.”

Williams was able to battle through some nagging injuries this season.

“It went pretty well, I feel like,” Williams said. “I had to battle through a couple injuries, didn’t have to miss any games, but just battling through injuries and having a good training staff and the coaches and linemen. I feel like this year was the year we had the most confidence in ourselves.”

He believes a big improvement in his development was his blocking.

“I feel like I’ve become a lot better blocker,” Williams said. “It was a little difficult, just because of the injuries I had to go through. I definitely feel like I’ve become a better blocker, and just my football knowledge has increased a lot. You know, I can see different things that as a freshman I wasn’t able to see. I’ve definitely got a lot smarter on the football field.”

Williams is also pleased with how the Arkansas program has gone from only seven total wins in his first two seasons to a chance to have seven this season alone with a win in the bowl.

“We’ve definitely made a lot of progress,” Williams said. “Like I said, we just go into the games with a lot more confidence. Last year, I feel like we kind of knew we could go in and compete, but this year every game we went into we felt like we could be competitive and we could come out with the win.

“Obviously, we didn’t come out with every win, but going into every game we felt like we could,” Williams said. “I feel like that’s the biggest difference.”

Williams got a lot of attention when he scored in the regular season finale with Missouri and used the “Hands Up Don’t Shootout” symbol.

That has become a symbol of the protesters in Ferguson, Mo., after the shooting and death of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.

“Didn’t expect ... I wasn’t expecting to get blown up or anything like that,” Williams said. “Feel like it kind of got out of hand.”

Bielema noted after it that Williams had some regret.

“I just like to ... I’m a team guy,” Williams said. “You know, I think about the team first and foremost, so next time I’m just going to hand the ball to the ref and celebrate with my teammates.”

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