Dick Harmon: BYU football: Cougar freshman running back Jamaal Williams ideal player to teach
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Jamaal Williams is the kind of person people like to teach.
He’s the pupil a teacher loves to have in the classroom, the employee a boss loves to have in the workplace, and the player a coach loves to have on the practice field.
Because he gets the big picture, takes what he gets and does it.
Ever hire somebody who simply didn’t listen, tuned everyone out and did it their way? Ever work with a guy who embraced victimhood, was an excuse magnet, came in late, left early, then thought he deserved a raise?
Well, Williams, BYU's 17-year-old running back, is the antithesis of all those kinds of people. He’s humble as a country preacher. All he wants is to work hard and get better.
Williams returns to his home state of California this weekend when BYU plays San Jose State (8:30 pm MT) on Saturday. He’s also a player garnering a lot of attention from defenders and the media.
BYU’s second-year running backs coach Joe DuPaix has the task of coaching Williams, the freshman from Fontana, Calif.
Did I say task?
“Oh, man, it’s a blast,” said DuPaix of his job to introduce Williams to Division I football.
“Jamaal is just a great young man,” said the coach.
“He soaks it all in. He listens very intently then goes out and executes it. For some people it takes a lot of time to execute what a coach asks you to do. For Jamaal, he takes what is given and goes right out on the field and performs.”
To date, Williams has carried the ball 117 times for 620 yards for 10 touchdowns. He has also caught 21 passes for 230 yards and a score. His best effort came in a blowout win over Hawaii in Provo in which he gained 155 yards. He managed 64 yards against Notre Dame’s top 10 defense.
“It is very pleasing to see him excel in that aspect of football,” said DuPaix. “It is one thing to play football but another thing to mentally play it with great confidence. His knowledge of the game is right, but to do it at a high level is sweet.
“He’s got a long way to go, and he knows that, but it’s really fun to coach a player who wants to get better and see the improvements he is making.”
DuPaix, Williams and BYU’s offense will have a challenge against San Jose State, an 8-2 team in the Western Athletic Conference. In a league where SJSU, Louisiana Tech and Utah State are tops, the Spartans are fully respected.
DuPaix knows BYU will have its hands full.
“They are a very hard-playing football team,” said DuPaix.
SJSU’s defensive coordinator is Kent Baer, a former Utah State linebacker who has coached defense at Utah State, Arizona State, Washington, Notre Dame, Stanford and Cal.
Everywhere Baer has coached, he’s created tough-nosed defenses, many of which have been ranked among the top-10 defenses in the country, especially against the run.
“They try hard on every play and that really sticks out to me,” said DuPaix. “They are a very sound football defense with very good players who are going to compete down-in and down-out. This is a very good team — well-coached and they are hungry.”
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