Just like his mom: Mother Nicolle has molded BYU's Jamaal Williams into the person he is
“Next thing I know, he’s up running around his apartment,” Nicolle said. “I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘I want to get ready for practice on Monday.’ I told him, ‘Jamaal, you’re not practicing.’”
Nicolle spent the week in Provo with her son, nursing him back to health. Jamaal’s headache lasted about three days, and he sat out the Middle Tennessee game.
“It just killed him not to play on that Friday,” Nicolle said. “They didn’t put his helmet and shoulder pads out because they didn’t want him showing up on the field somehow.”
Nicolle has attended every BYU game, home and away, the past two seasons to watch her sophomore son play. She was in Logan last week and was thrilled when he erupted for a 44-yard gain, setting up a touchdown that gave the Cougars a 17-7 lead.
“I was so happy for him,” Nicolle said of that run. “His form looked good. He had his knees up and he shifted gears nicely.”
BYU coaches were concerned about overloading Williams in his first game after the injury.
“He wanted to play more,” said offensive coordinator Robert Anae. “We restricted his opportunities. In my opinion, I just don’t think a guy can jump back into a full burden type of deal. We’re hoping Jamaal is feeling better and he can continue to grow with his role.”
No, Williams — who has rushed 90 times for 457 yards this season — didn’t like having his reps limited against Utah State.
“He was jumping up and down, wanting to get back in at the end,” said coach Bronco Mendenhall.
“He thought he was going to play, then they called him back from the field and he was on the sidelines pouting like a little baby,” Nicolle said. “I said, ‘Oh my goodness.’ He just loves football. Last week, he probably wanted to show everybody that he got injured, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and show that he’s still the same Jamaal. He doesn’t want anyone to treat him any differently. He wants to be the same Jamaal as before the injury.”
Nicolle raised Jamaal and his 16-year-old sister, Jaela — who is a track athlete and honor student — on her own.
“Jamaal and his sister, I just want them to know that even though I’m tough on them, I love them,” Nicolle said. “To this day, I make sure Jamaal’s doing what he supposed to do. I tell him, ‘If you don’t keep a 3.0 (GPA), you have to move back on campus.’ I am a mother. I was a single parent. I want Jamaal to be a man and take responsibility. We have a really special bond. It’s something that has grown over the years. I was the first female T-ball coach in our league. I’ve been there for him from the time he started playing sports. We’re a pretty competitive family.”
When Nicolle injured her knee during her stint at the sheriff’s academy, Jamaal and Jaela watched her rehab and bounce back.
“I kept going because it was something I wanted to pursue,” Nicolle said. “They always look at me as never stopping. That’s their mentality.”
She said Jamaal learned important lessons from his injury.
“I think it will make him a better running back,” Nicolle explained. “He’s going to run with more power and he knows not to put his head down. I told him, ‘I don’t know what it is, but God is watching over you.’ He’s a very strong person. Anytime he has a setback, he comes back even stronger. He’s a tough warrior.”
Like mother like son.
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