TAMPA – Entering his second full season on the Gaither varsity football team, rising senior running back TJ Williams simply wants to be a reliable contributor for his offense.
The 5’11”, 190-pounder has already put on 15 lbs. from the end of last season and ideally wants to be at 200 or 210 lbs. come August.
Senior running back Raheem Wilson suffered an injury five weeks into the season which opened up the starting role for Williams. He ran away with it, recording 490 total yards and nine touchdowns. Prior to last season, Williams played four games on varsity spending the majority of his freshman and sophomore years learning on JV.
“Last year I was living under the shadow of a senior until he got injured,” Williams said. “We had to run the ball a lot and I had to get conditioned for that. It was a tough challenge, but I loved it. I got better everytime I ran the ball.”
He says last season was certainly hard for him, but he is much more prepared for his current situation as the starting running back and contributor as a slot receiver.
On top of getting stronger this off-season, Williams had this to say about his overall progress heading into his senior campaign.
“I have gotten more adapted to the Friday Night Lights and the big crowds. The intensity and pressure of going up against really good teams like Plant and Sickles.”
Williams says his biggest strength is his vision. He wants to improve his speed and hands. His last 40-yard dash time on Apr. 20 was a 4.56.
Currently, Williams doesn’t have a collegiate offer, but he has interest from Division-I programs Baylor and Purdue and interest from Division-III schools Hamilton College, Oberlin, Sewanee and Trinity.
The Cowboys posted a 4-6 record which marked the second straight season they missed out on the postseason. Gaither had made three straight region playoff appearances from 2011-13 under head coach Jason Stokes. Williams says he loves what Stokes represents as a coach and a man.
“He [Stokes] brings out the best in us. He cares about us on the field and off the field. He makes us update him on our grades. Basically, he’s a father on the field for me.”
Williams began his football career at age 7 playing cornerback. He switched to running back in seventh grade, a position he thoroughly enjoys.
“I love the feeling when you burst through a hole or make someone miss on the way into the end zone.”
He says he gained the confidence he has in his game this past off-season. Going to camps this spring and learning from the coaches and their reflections had a big impact on his mindset.
His biggest role models in his life are his parents.
“They both do what they can for me. I try to be as respectful to them as possible because I know I won’t be with them long. It depends on if I play at the next level which I’m very much hoping to because I’m working in the classroom and on the field.”
Williams’ goal this season is to get better and help his team improve while his ultimate goal with the game of football is to make it to the NFL and be great.
It’s hard to watch Williams play football and not be impressed. He is smooth out of the backfield whether he is running routes, powering up the field or blocking.
TJ Williams might not have his first offer yet, but he will earn one very soon especially if he leads a big turnaround for Gaither.
Favorite players to watch – Adrian Peterson, Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott
Playlist before games – “No music. I take a nap or close my eyes and have a quick prayer.”
Favorite movies – Deadpool
Fun fact about you that nobody knows – “Secretly I watched a lot of Adrian Peterson highlights from high school and college. He’s kind of my role model other than my mom and dad.”
Nickname from teammates or friends – “Beast Mode”, “TJ1K”
Game film: Williams’ Hudl tape
In cased you missed it: 1-on-1 with Gaither LB Matthew Wood (5/11/16)
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.