As the leading rusher in BYU history, Jamaal Williams can carry the load.
With 27 receptions as a freshman, Williams can catch the football.
After allowing only one sack in extensive pass-protection duty, Williams can protect the quarterback.
Is there nothing the Green Bay Packers’ fourth-round pick can’t do?
“Yeah, he can’t throw the ball. He’s a terrible passer,” BYU running backs coach Reno Mahe said with a laugh.
The Packers released James Starks after the season and lost Eddie Lacy to Seattle in free agency. That left converted receiver Ty Montgomery as the only running back on the roster with NFL experience.
To fill those sizeable voids, Williams was one of five rookie running backs added to the roster and the first of three who were selected in the draft. Williams, however, has the size and skill-set to be the three-down back that coach Mike McCarthy covets. Fifth-round pick Aaron Jones struggled in pass protection at UTEP. Seventh-round pick Devante Mays caught two passes in two seasons at Utah State.
Other than the halfback-option pass having to be scrapped from McCarthy’s call sheet, Williams appears to be a do-it-all running back.
“He’s in one of the best situations in regards to the numbers you guys have at running back,” Mahe said. “I don’t know if you have a running back like him coming back. I think he’s in an ideal situation. He’s going to do everything he can to step right in. I think Green Bay picked up a great player and someone that’s ready to step right in and produce for them. I’m excited for him.”
Mahe knows what it takes to be successful in the NFL, so his words shouldn’t be taken lightly. After catching 150 passes in two seasons at BYU, he went undrafted but spent five seasons playing for the Eagles. Mahe’s arrival at BYU as running backs coach in 2016 coincides with Williams’ return from a one-year absence for violating the school’s honor code. Williams returned with a flourish, rushing for 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns.
That one year has Mahe convinced that Williams is going to have a strong NFL career.
“I have no doubt in my mind,” Mahe said. “He’s someone that’s very well prepared for the NFL. You know how the NFL goes. You’ve got to stay healthy and things have to fall your way. You have to be in a good situation. I think he’s in a great situation.”
According to Williams, the honor code violation was for having a girl in his dorm room. If Williams is a star on the field, how is he off the field?
“I’ve got something for you. BYU’s all-time leading rusher and what he likes to do in his free time is go roller-skating,” Mahe said with a laugh. “He’s got a mad roller-skating game. He’s pretty good at video games, too. He’s a pretty quiet kid, actually. But once he gets a helmet on and gets on that football field, man, he turns into something different.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.