Baby-J excited for first bowl game

When young California running back Jamaal Williams came to BYU, he expected he would have some success, just not this soon and this much. Now that Williams is beeping more on opponents' radars, a bulls-eye target is being placed more and more on his chest. It's assumed that San Diego State will also single him out.

Usually, true freshman running backs take baby steps before running away in BYU's offense. The reason is simple: there's a lot of responsibilities that come with being a successful running back, and the player must develop the skills necessary to fulfill those responsibilities.

For true freshman Jamaal Williams, some of his skill development even took him by surprise.

"I didn't expect me to start blocking as good as I'm starting to get right now," he said. "I'm just happy that I get to cut, but I'm not cutting as much because I do see what happens when I do cut at the wrong time and wrong place. It's just a learning experience, and I'm just learning everyday from it."

For Williams, the transition from baby steps to running wild virtually happened overnight.

"I expected me to just play a little bit, but this is more of a surprise," Williams said. "I'm just grateful that I got this opportunity to do what I'm doing now, to get as many carries and touchdowns and opportunities to play running back and start too. I'm just grateful that I've got this time now as a freshman, and I didn't have to wait as long as I thought I would."

In BYU's regular-season finale, New Mexico State committed seven and sometimes eight defenders to stacking the box in an effort to stop Williams. San Jose State game-planned for him as well. So, naturally Williams is expecting San Diego State to follow suit.

"I'm expecting it a little bit, but if they do, then we still have Cody [Hoffman] and Ross [Apo] and just our whole receiving corps that can help out. I'm just can't wait to see what they are going to do, because they have to look at both sides of the ball. If they want to stop the run, then we're going to pass it. If they want to stop the pass, then we're going to run it. It's just a win-win for us."

"If they don't take him out of the game, he's going to run for 250 on them," said BYU offensive tackle Ryker Mathews with a laugh. "So, I mean, if they were smart they would try and game-plan against that, so it will be interesting to see what they do.

"A lot of what happened in the New Mexico State came from game-planning against Jamaal. They were really focused on trying to stop the run and we're seeing more and more of that. I suspect San Diego State will try and do the same thing when we play them in our bowl game."

But if San Diego State does decide to place a bulls-eye on the back of Williams' jersey, he'll view it as a compliment.

"I take it as a personal challenge, and I'm just grateful that they do consider me as a threat," said Williams. "It makes me even more of a great player when I can do things, even if they do try and stop me, that I can still be productive and help out the team."

Williams has a plan for the bowl game.

"Basically just going to run hard and north-south running and try and go at them and bring the pain before they bring it to us," said Williams while smiling.

"He makes us look good," Mathews said with laugh. "He makes us look good. He'll break some tackles that we miss some blocks on. Yeah, he's just a good running back and his potential is so high, but I like to think that we have some say in how successful he's been."

With legs fresh and a body healed of bumps and bruises, Williams is looking forward to heading back home to California to play in his first ever college bowl game.

"I feel pretty good right now," Williams said. "My legs are fresh and ice packed and treatment is all working for me right now, so I'm just anxious to play in the game. It's my first bowl game, so it's going to be very exciting.

"Yeah, I can't wait for it, especially since it's in California too, so it's not too far from home," Williams continued. "Mostly all the people back home are going to go to it.

"My mom told me that she has around 62 tickets that she bought for everybody. Well not everybody, she made them pay too. So, around 62. I think they're going to come with us to Sea World and the San Diego Zoo."

Once the bowl game is over, Williams will say goodbye to quite a few seniors he's had the privilege of playing with. A few of them will more than likely be playing on Sundays, a goal he has set for himself in the distant future.

"It's kind of important to me because I do want to go into the NFL," said Williams. "I would say that BYU does have multiple people in the NFL, so I feel like [BYU] can help me get there too. But right now I'm just thinking about the team and helping us win."

Well, for being a young BYU running back, he's well on his way.


Total Blue Sports Top Stories