Could Ja'Kouri Become J-Train?

When Tennessee landed Ja'Kouri Williams, rated the nation's No. 7 running back by The Insiders, most pictured him as a perimeter threat without the size or strength to attack a defense between the tackles.

There's no argument at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Williams is slight by conventional collegiate standards and his 10.5 sprinter's speed in the 100 meters would appear to make him better suited for wide receiver than tailback. However there's at least one informed source that believes Williams has a lot of room to grow.

"Right now he's a lot like a Warrick Dunn," Plaquemine High School head coach Don Jones told an Inside Tennessee writer today. "He's not a power runner but he will hit it up inside, but basically he's kind of like Warrick, he gets on the corner real quick and does an excellent job out of the backfield catching passes."

That's the type of scat back UT fans figured to be getting when Tennessee signed Williams, but what about two or three years down the road?

"He just turned 17 years old in October (21st)," said Jones. "At the All-American bowl he was the youngest athlete on either team. When he reaches full maturity I think he will be 6-foot or better and play at 220 to 225."

Williams already has remarkable strength for his size with a 300-plus total on the bench press and close to 600 pounds on the squat. Those totals should go up along with his weight.

"He's one of the strongest kids we've got," said Jones who coached NFL players Brian Mitchell and Anthony Thomas. "He benches right at 300 or better. He's close to 600 pounds on the squad and that's pretty good for a 180-, 185-pound guy. He hasn't got to lift as hard during the offseason with track and all, but after that he lives in the weight room and he's extremely strong."

With preseason practice still six months away and with Williams enrolling in classes this summer, it wouldn't be surprising to see him play at 195 next fall. How big will he be by the time he reaches age 19 is anybody's guess. What we do know is that Williams is a burner.

"I don't think in the four years I've seen him play that's he's ever been caught from behind," said Jones. "He's been electronically timed in the 100 meters at 10.5 and 4.31 in the 40."

How dangerous would Ja'Kouri Williams be if he can approach those times while adding 40 pounds of hard muscle on his lean frame?

"It's going to be up to Tennessee and how hard he works and how he makes the adjustment once he gets there," said Jones. "I'd say if he gets that big we're talking about a different back altogether."

If Ja'Kouri becomes a J-train, Tennessee's offense will be on the fast track for sure.

Writer's Note: This is a condensed version of a feature story being planned on Ja'Kouri Williams for Rocky Top News' upcoming recruiting issue which will spotlight all of 23 of UT's signees. If you're not a RTN subscriber — you're just getting half the story.

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