We help each other out, too. We’re always there pointing out things to work on. —BYU running back Jamaal Williams
PROVO — Mom, I love you, but leave the nicknames to me.
During BYU Football Media Day, running back Jamaal Williams was informed that his mother, Nicolle, had dubbed him and assumed backup, Squally Canada, as 'Thunder and Lightning.'
Williams, who has made a habit out of handing out nicknames to himself and his teammates since arriving at BYU, considered the nickname, for a second, then gave a grimace, stating, "I’ll probably be the thunder but no, thunder sounds like big and no, we need another combination than that,” Williams said.
As for what Williams may dub the combination of himself and Canada, he said, “I'll probably say ‘shake and bake,’ I don’t know, but we’ll probably come up with one. ... We’ll probably come up with a name before the season, or something, so just be waiting for it.”
BYU senior running back Jamaal Williams talks about nicknames his mother gave the running back group.
Fans will certainly be anxiously awaiting the nickname, and anything else Williams has to offer, after having to observe a season without the senior running back's fun-loving nature, along with his exceptional play. Williams sat out the 2015 season and hopes to return to form in some ways while aiming to take a bit of a different approach in other ways.
Williams aims to keep relatively quiet and to himself with regards to how he handles things off the playing field while remaining the same guy on it.
“I’m just growing up and I’ve been through too much,” Williams explained. “On the field I’m the same. I’m still nasty, aggressive, hungry and ready to go. But off the field I’m staying low and keeping my head down. I’m minding my business and getting things done.”
Among those things Williams is getting done is leading a young and promising group of running backs, starting with Canada, who showed good strides during last season and into the 2016 spring practice session. Canada, a transfer from Washington State, ended spring practices listed as Williams' primary backup.
The similarities between the two players is notable. Both players are African-American and not LDS, while showing good initial prowess running the football. Williams readily notes the similarities and has gone about taking Canada, a transfer from Washington State, under his wing.
“I tell him what I’ve been through and give him the best advice I can,” Williams said. “But ultimately it’s up to him. I’m not like his daddy, we’re grown men and we have our own responsibilities. But he is my boy at the same time, and he listens to me like I listen to him. We all learn from one another. I’m just grateful that he’s here.”
Williams is grateful for all his teammates, particularly his fellow running backs who are working to push him to be a better player.
“It’s always great to have competition in practice,” Williams said. “You want guys to help get you to that next level during practices. So Algie (Brown), Squally, and all the rest of them — it’s a great thing to have. They push me every day.”
It's not all about competition, however.
“We help each other out, too. We’re always there pointing out things to work on,” Williams said. “The other day one of our guys fumbled the ball during practice and I went after them, yelling, ‘We don’t fumble the ball around here!’ It’s all out of love, though, and we all understand that that’s what family does for each other.”
Williams' running back family includes promising sophomore Riley Burt, junior Trey Dye and fellow senior Algernon Brown, among others. Brown, who would more adequately fit the moniker "thunder" with his physical brand of play, shares his teammate's enthusiasm for his position group.
“All the running backs have different styles of play and so I think it gives us better options to get into situations where we can use our strengths,” Brown said. "It's going to be a fun year and we're all real excited to see how it all comes together and to show the best we can as a group and as a team."