Commentary

Jonathan Williams proves his worth

Despite groin injury, the Watch List RB showed why he has double-digit offers

Originally Published: April 10, 2011
By Randy Jennings | ESPN Recruiting

FORT WORTH, Texas -- With 10 college scholarship offers already in his pocket, Jonathan Williams came to Sunday's Nike Football Training Camp without anything to prove.

Except to himself.

It was important enough for the ESPNU 150 Watch List running back from Allen (Texas) High School that he put a groin injury out of his mind to compete at the camp at Texas Christian University.

"When you read on the message boards that you're one of the top running backs in the country, it makes you want to come out and measure yourself against some of the best,'' Williams said. "It helps my confidence to know that after [Sunday], I can do it.''

[+] EnlargeJonathan Williams
Tom HauckWatch List RB Jonathan Williams already has 10 offers, including his early favorite Missouri.
For the 5-foot-11, 203-pound rising senior, verification came in the day's most spirited drill. To create simulated one-on-one pass protection, Williams and the other running backs attempted to keep linebackers from getting a clear shot at football placed on the ground where a quarterback would stand.

Williams protected that football the way he does Allen quarterback Alec Morris on game nights. Match-ups against talented Peter Jinkens of Dallas Skyline were particularly entertaining.

"I love to compete like that,'' Williams said. "I had a little bit of an advantage because pass blocking by running backs is very important at Allen. I knew that [Jinkens] has committed to Texas and that was on my mind, too. It was my chance to prove something. It was a confidence builder for me.''

Until that point, Williams had been taking it easy in other drills at the suggestion of camp instructors so that he could be full strength for head-to-head competition. Williams' groin injury occurred a couple of weeks earlier while running on the 4x200 relay for the Allen track and field team.

Combine running back instructor David Underwood called Williams of the top five backs he's seen this year.

"He impressed me by the way he adapted to new drills we threw at the guys,'' Underwood said. "That's something college coaches want to see. The sky is the limit with him.''

Missouri is atop Williams' recruiting list at the moment. He plans to accompany Allen senior offensive guard Brad McNulty, a Missouri signee, to the Tigers' spring game on Saturday.

"I'd like to go into sports broadcasting at some point and Missouri is one of the best schools in the nation for that,'' said Williams, who has a 3.46 GPA.

Williams plans to make a selection from a list that, in addition to Missouri, currently includes Iowa, Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Pittsburgh, Rice and, the latest entry, Michigan State.

"Academics will be important in my choice and I also want to feel I'm going somewhere where I'm at home,'' Williams said. "It may be summer before I decide, but I want to do it before the start of my senior season.''

Williams rushed for 2,078 yards and 19 touchdowns on 248 carries in 2011. The Eagles' 10-2 season ended with a 37-35 loss to state finalist Euless Trinity in the second round of the Class 5A Division I Texas state playoffs in November.

A medial collateral ligament injury early in that game limited his output, but it didn't spoil an excellent comeback season for Williams, who had his sophomore season cut short by a broken ankle. Because of the return of many of its stars, including Williams and quarterback Morris, much is expected of Allen next season.

"Everything Jonathan does impresses me,'' said Morris, who took part in the combine. "I love playing on his team. We have the kind of relationship that we can joke around and have fun on the field.''

Funny, no one heard any of the pass rushers saying they had fun playing against Williams on Sunday. And odds are there won't be many defenses having much fun when they face Williams this fall.

Randy Jennings covers high school sports for ESPNDallas.com