Jamaal Williams returns to LaVell Edwards Stadium for his junior season with big hopes and big expectations. The 6-0, 200 pound junior from Fontana, California has recently been named to both the Doak Walker and Maxwell Awards Lists - awards honoring the best running back and the best overall college football player. Williams is also on the watch list for the CFPA Running Back Trophy. (Check out Greg Wrubell's chart for all BYU players on 2014 award watch lists here)
High expectancies for Williams, however, existed before his being named to the watch lists. Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Robert Anae has stated his prediction that Williams will pass Cougar greats like Luke Staley, Lakei Heimuli, Jamal Willis, Harvey Unga, to become BYU's all-time greatest rusher.and
To do so Williams will need to rush more than 100 yards per game. 1448 in total, to be exact. Anae says he is confident that it will happen. "I've already apologized to Harvey because that record is going down."
Notwithstanding of the tallness of that order, Williams has two things in his favor-scheduling and experience. The Cougars have an easier schedule than last year, and their returning offensive line leads the NCAA in combined starts. Still, a 1500 yard season is quite a feat for any running back.
Williams first season as a Cougar went very well as he played every game, starting in eight of them, and finished the season with 166 carries for 775 yards and 12 touchdowns. All three set the record for a BYU true freshman.
During his sophomore season, Williams played in all games but one. He took a violent hit to the head during a third-down play against Utah. In front of a stunned and silent crowd, he was strapped to a board and carted off the field.
The concussion and shoulder stinger required Williams to sit out the next week against Middle Tennessee. The next week he was allowed restricted play against Utah State.
Williams doesn't seem afraid of the expectations. "I just need to be a little more vicious when people are trying to tackle me," Williams was quoted by Salt Lake Tribune's Kurt Kragthorpe. "It's just me trying to make it more difficult for them-like they're going to have to have at least three of them to take me down instead of one person diving for my legs"
Other Cougar running backs to watch are Algernon Brown, Paul Lasike and Adam Hine.