Friday, March 1

Jameson Williams becomes superstar in Alabama after transferring from Ohio State

All Jameson Williams needed to do to acknowledge his situation was take a look at the most obvious category on Ohio State’s stat sheet. In the 2021 season he caught nine passes. It didn’t matter how much ground those receptions covered or how many touchdowns they produced or even that the team’s most recent season had been cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic and their numbers suppressed. He was a wide receiver who didn’t watch football or the field.

It didn’t really matter that his playing time had been limited by the presence of veteran Chris Olave and Williams’ classmate Garrett Wilson, because Olave’s decision to return for a final season meant little about that circumstance that would likely change.

“I felt it was time to make a decision for myself,” Williams told Sporting News.

And that moment came at a serendipitous moment in the 152-year history of college football. The NCAA rules were changing to allow athletes in income sports who transfer from school to compete immediately rather than serving the usual “year of residence” before being eligible. And the school where he wanted to play, Alabama, was losing a Heisman Trophy winner who played Williams’ position and another so talented that he became the first Crimson Tide player selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.

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Here’s how it could make perfect sense for Williams to leave a powerhouse like Ohio State for an even more successful program and end up becoming a Sporting News first-team All-American and an essential player in Tide’s quest for a second straight championship. . , to be determined in Monday night’s college football playoff championship game against SEC rival Georgia.

Williams’ experience has validated the long campaign undertaken by activist athletes and university sports analysts to allow all Division I athletes to compete immediately after transfer.

“I’m going to be on the player’s side here, all the time,” recruiting analyst Adam Gorney of told Sporting News. “When you’re such an elite athlete, really the worst thing you can do for your ability and your development is to stay on the sidelines for a year. You’re going to lose. Or you’re going to lose interest, and the other thing that happens, that people don’t want to talk about, is that the coach is recruiting on you at the same time that you are away.

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“There is no guarantee that if Jameson Williams transfers and has to stay out next year, Alabama will not look for the next Jameson Williams, who is eager to get on the field and doesn’t have to stay out for a year. This is a perfect example of a situation where leaving one school and finding another was absolutely perfect for him, his game, and his future. “

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When he left the Cardinal Ritter in St. Louis in the spring of 2019, Williams was considered a four-star prospect and ranked 87th in his class by rivals, his blinding speed an obvious asset, but his lean frame a reasonable concern. At 6-1, he weighed just 168 pounds.

He considered offers from both Ohio State and Alabama before picking the Buckeyes in fall 2018. Had he selected the Tide initially, he would likely have a national championship ring, but his initial experience would have been similar, with Jaylen Waddle and the eventual Heisman winner. DeVonta Smith filling the catcher positions. However, they were closer to leaving.

And when they did, and Williams needed a new home, Crimson Tide was still looking for it. Williams said he was told, “It would be a great complement to offense and as the season progressed, we all saw how they used me on offense and everything … a great offense this year.”

He ranks fifth among FBS receivers, with 1,507 receiving yards, and is tied for second in touchdowns, though his 75 catches are 30th. His explosiveness is obvious in the fact that he has more than 70-yard TDs. , 60 yards, 50 yards, 40 yards, 30 yards, and 20 yards than any receiver in the division.

“I have been very lucky. I’ve trained a lot of great receivers, ”Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien told Sporting News. In fact, he was DeAndre Hopkins’ head coach with the Houston Texans, Julian Edelman’s offensive coordinator in 2011 and DaeSean Hamilton’s first head coach at Penn State.

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“And Jameson, relative to the stage of his career that he’s in, being a college football player and he probably has the opportunity to play professional soccer … Excellent speed, excellent road runner, very competitive guy. He is a very instinctive player. He is a very smart player. And I can’t say enough about its competitiveness. He is a player who goes out and practices every day as if it were a game.

“And I think that’s something that greats have: those features. Everybody is a little different. Everyone is built differently. Everyone has different skill sets, different speeds, things like that. But the best I’ve been with, and Jameson’s in that category, they all have that competitive spirit that is really hard to find sometimes. “

O’Brien came to Alabama last January to become the team’s new OC, replacing Steve Sarkisian after he left for the head coaching job at Texas. At the time, Williams was still preparing for spring 2021 practice and his junior season with the Buckeyes. However, when it ended, and when Williams made the decision to look elsewhere to continue his career, Alabama had a sudden opportunity to fill the substantial vacancies created in its receiving core.

“You know, it’s similar to free agency, but without the rules, to be honest with you,” O’Brien said. “There are some rules at the university, but the portal is an interesting deal. And I’ll stay away from it. “

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Williams is not keen, at least for the moment, in being an example of the success of the transfer rule. This week, he asked a stark question about what he would say to any other potential transfers about how to achieve the degree of success that you have in changing schools.

His attention is directed to the Georgia defense that he has seen once, up close and personal, and tries to calculate the different concepts that he might be grappling with Monday night.

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He smoked what had been hailed as a generational D for seven receptions, two touchdowns and 184 yards, and there’s no way UGa could change the outcome of that game, a Crimson Tide 41-24 win, without erasing a good chunk. of that production. .

“We’re always finding ways to get all of our guys to have the ball,” O’Brien said. “Our boys are really smart. You can move them. You can do a lot of different things with them. ”He was unwilling to reveal what particular things they might be, just as the Bulldogs were unwilling to reveal their plan to limit Williams’s impact.

“It’s going to be a big challenge,” Williams said. “I’m pretty sure all those guys will come twice as hard as the first game. We have to play much better than the first game, much better than the last ”.

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Although reluctant to discuss the transfer exception issue or speak in any depth about his experience at Ohio State, Williams was willing to reveal that he is still in touch with his former Buckeyes teammates, lads who kept him in. the bank like Wilson, Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who have openly supported his pursuit of the CFP title.

“It’s great to receive the love of my brothers,” he said. “I talk to these guys almost every day … Since I left, we have had a stronger relationship, although I had a strong one there. We keep in touch, we call each other, we text each other, we see how it goes. “

Sporting News NFL writer Vinnie Iyer projects that Olave and Wilson will be selected in the top 20. Smith-Njigba broke the Rose Bowl receiving record with 343 yards. And Jameson Williams will attempt Monday night to win a national championship, albeit with a much more intense shade of red.

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