He is the whole package as a running back. He can block, catch, pound the ball and has the speed to go the distance. He has a great personality and he’s fun to be around, and that has all come out this week in practices at the Senior Bowl. —Agent Leigh Steinberg, on Jamaal Williams
Jamaal Williams had his thousand watt smile on display but it was his skills that stole the show in the Deep South the past few days.
Before kickoff of Saturday’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Jamaal Williams couldn’t have asked for a better lead up to the event.
BYU’s all-time leading rusher is seeing his NFL stock rise since his 210-yard rushing performance in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.
Cole Thompson, an NFL draft analyst for The Draft Wire, tweeted this week: “Jamaal Williams has solidified his day 2 stock today it’s not even close between him and any other RB here.”
Williams joins teammate, linebacker Harvey Langi, and former Ute defensive lineman Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (USC) on the roster for the South squad.
“From all reports, Jamaal’s draft stock is rising quickly,” said his agent Leigh Steinberg, the sports agent made famous in the movie based on his life: "Jerry Maguire." Steinberg has represented BYU players QB Steve Young, D-lineman Jim Herrmann, first-round picks Shawn Knight and Jason Buck and punter Lee Johnson.
A recovering alcoholic, Steinberg said back in his drinking days a bottle of champagne came to his table with BYU folk and it was met with “hysterical laughter” as it was consumed by one person, not them.
Since then, Steinberg said his agency has been “bereft” of athletes from BYU and it is “absolutely wonderful” to sign Williams. “He’s a ray of sunshine and now he’s lighting up the Senior Bowl,” Steinberg told me Thursday when I co-hosted an ESPN960 radio show with Ben Criddle.
“Jamaal has met with representatives from six NFL teams this week, interviewed with them and this will be a foundation for other interviews and acquaintances he will encounter at the upcoming NFL Combine.”
Williams was named the practice player of the week (among running backs) by Senior Bowl staff on Friday.
“He is the whole package as a running back. He can block, catch, pound the ball and has the speed to go the distance. He has a great personality and he’s fun to be around, and that has all come out this week in practices at the Senior Bowl,” said Steinberg.
“At the practices, you could see what his bursts are like. The game won’t necessarily be something his talent will be judged on because the entire offense may not have been put in and coordinated at a high level, the play calling might differ and the blocking may not be what it should.
“I tell players you can’t practice the way you did in college, you have to go full tilt, as if they were in a mini-game. You hope for the best in the game but it isn’t all. The Senior Bowl is the best display of the most talent, although juniors are not there.”
Steinberg said Williams will be protected with insurance but it won’t be an “injury” type assurance but a “performance” protection in case he is hurt and unable to perform and earn a salary.
“This is my 43rd NFL draft and it isn’t a career-ending injury you are trying to protect. I’ve never seen a player have a career-ending injury in this game. If you were to blow your knee out – the worst thing there is – you can recover. Guys are young with a remarkable ability to rehabilitate. What happens is if you get injured, you won’t be drafted, and in that case it is a loss of value insurance policy, which establishes a player might be a second rounder and an injury takes him to the sixth round.”
Steinberg said Williams’ work at the Senior Bowl before the bowl moved the needle. The next hurdle will be his NFL Combine performance and meetings with NFL teams. “Then the next step will be his Pro Day at BYU and then individual teams will come and work him out in Provo, then there will be invitations to go to individual NFL teams and be evaluated.”
Steinberg said the genesis of his signing Williams came at the bequest of Williams’ uncle, who called the Los Angeles-based agent.
Williams’ gained nearly 4,000 rushing yards in his illustrious career at BYU and it remains to be seen where he’ll go in the NFL draft this spring. But this week in Mobile, he’s collected all kinds of hype and praise from observers and journalists covering the event. You’d be hard pressed to find one negative review.
This is how Williams’ senior season started last September when he was among the nation’s rushing leaders in before an injury against Mississippi State sidelined him. He missed the Boise State game, and then kind of lost his national momentum and recognition.
This week, most if not all that lost ground was regained leading up to the Senior Bowl and he’s now a solid second-day target on draft night.