Now that football is over and down with, BYU running back recruit Jamaal Williams has been burning up the track for Summit High School.
“It’s going good and I’m just getting ready for the end of the school year,” Williams said. “Track is going good right now and I’m getting faster every day because I’m working hard. Mostly I just feel leaner. When football starts up again I’ll feel all buff and stuff, but right now I feel like a leaner guy.”
At 6 feet 2 inches and 203 pounds, Williams’ fastest time in the 100 meters is an amazing 11.0 flat. To make a comparison, the fastest 100 meter time in the state of Utah so far has been 11.04, turned in by Derek Farley of Copper Hills High School. Future BYU track member and wide receiver Jake Arslanian has so far turned in an 11.23 time in the 100 meters.
However, Williams wants to improve on his 11.0 time.
“I’m about to hit the 10s here soon, so I’m close,” he said. “We have a track meet tomorrow so my goal is to get my track time down in the 10s.”
When in the eighth grade, Williams ran track and field in the USA Junior Olympics for track and field. It was then that he won his first meet in Oregon, and it was a sign of things to come.
He excelled and continued to compete in the Junior Olympics, traveling with the team to various states.
“We went down to Baltimore, Oregon, New Orleans, Tennessee and Texas,” Williams said. “I ran the 200 meters for my age group and competed at all these different places.
“I beat everyone in my age group and got the record for my age group. It was a 27.37 in the 200 meters for the eighth grade. I got a gold medal and then at the banquet I got a plaque that has your name on it saying that I was the national champion in the event you were in. That year I was the national champion in the 200 meters, setting a record for my age group.”
However, what came naturally to Williams was soon lost.
“I started off fast doing what I was doing,” said Williams. “Before I went into my freshman year, I broke my ankle so I had to come back from that and it kind of slowed me down. I had to really work on getting my speed back up again. It’s been a real long-term struggle trying to get my speed back up to where it should be.”
Along with recovering from an ankle injury, Williams also began to grow. His father Larry, the smallest of five brothers born in Arkansas, was a large man at 6 feet 5 inches, and Williams began going through a growth spurt.
“People were saying, ‘Oh, you’re getting bigger,’ but I didn’t feel like I was getting bigger,” Williams said.
“Then I would go home and look at my closet and see my clothes and say, ‘Dang, I can’t wear this anymore.’ My shirts that used to be baggy on me are all tight and now coming down to my bellybutton. I was like, ‘Dang, I might be getting bigger.’ I was thinking I might be getting taller. That was something that I didn’t really want because running backs aren’t supposed to be tall. I just tried to do my best to work and be fast, to know that you don’t have to be small to be fast, and that you can be tall and still be fast and agile.”
Now a senior at Summit High School, Williams is working on improving on his track times.
“Well, we have a track meet [Thursday] but my focus right now is the 400,” said Williams. “Most coaches want you to run the 400 so you can get stronger for the sprint where you can hold your speed the longest. It’s not just about being fast but getting to your top speed the fastest to where you can hold it longer. The 400 helps you develop that. That’s why I love the 400 race, because it’s just a longer race for me to hold on.”
Arslanian’s fastest time so far in the 400 meters this year is a 49.8. Williams has beaten that time as his athleticism is now catching up to his body.
“My fastest time in the 400 track meet is a 49.6, so hopefully in my next track meet I can get that down in the 48 or 47 time range. The fastest right now in California is a 48.2, so I’m trying to get into the 48 range so I can be among the top times in the state.”
Although he’s down in California and wasn’t able to visit BYU during the Cougars’ spring camp, Williams does keep tabs on the team he’ll be joining later this year. Williams can’t wait to bring his game to BYU’s football team.
“I’ve been dreaming about BYU all the time,” Williams said. “I’ve been going to YouTube and checking out all the spring practice videos and interviews. I’m excited to get out there and start competing and playing football again. I’m excited!”
BYU fans will be excited too if Williams can capture his full potential and the coaches can put it to good use in BYU’s offense.