Starting in late July, Ohio State went two months without gaining a commitment for its 2018 recruiting class while the Urban Meyer/Zach Smith saga lingered.
Receiver Jameson Williams said the limbo surrounding Meyer didn’t dissuade him from breaking that drought when he pledged to become a Buckeye on Sept. 28.
“I let it play out, and afterward I made my mind up that I wanted to be a Buckeye,” he said.
Williams said the decision took weight off his shoulders, and last week he showed it. The four-star prospect from St. Louis Cardinal Ritter College Prep caught nine passes for a staggering 287 yards and five touchdowns in a 40-35 victory over Borgia.
“It was just a regular game to me,” Williams said. “I usually catch about nine balls. This game, I just put it in the end zone a lot.”
For the season, Williams has 36 catches for 863 yards and 13 touchdowns, plus a touchdown on a 60-yard punt return.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder’s top asset is his speed. Ritter coach Brandon Gregory also coaches track, and Williams won the state meet last year in the 300 hurdles with a time of 37.4 seconds. Gregory said Williams broke a 300-hurdles meet record set by Ezekiel Elliott, who might be a familiar name.
In the 100 meters, Williams was clocked at 10.59 seconds, Gregory said.
“He is very explosive,” he said. “When he gets the ball in his hands, he can make something happen. His ability to stretch the field will allow other players to be better.”
Williams comes by his speed naturally. His parents, especially his mother, Tianna, were track stars. He said his mom was so fast that she practiced with the boys team in high school. Williams said his older sister, Ja’lanna, is on the track team at Wayland Baptist University in Texas.
Williams isn’t yet a polished receiver, acknowledging he needs to improve his hands. Gregory said that largely is because Williams switched from running back only three years ago.
“It’s kind of scary,” Gregory said, “knowing that there still is (room for) some development there.”
Catching the ball is only part of the responsibility of an Ohio State receiver. Blocking is a must, and Williams said he embraces that.
“I block a lot,” he said.
Gregory said what most impresses him about Williams is his maturity. At times his freshman year, he said, Williams was sent home for messing around at practice. This year, when another player did the same thing and faced the same consequence, Williams talked to the kid and counseled him.
“He became a natural leader,” Gregory said.
Williams has made similar strides in the classroom.
“He struggled his freshman year like every other freshman,” Gregory said. “Today, we watched film and when we got done we pulled up everybody’s grades. He said, ‘Coach, check mine first.’ A couple years ago, Jameson wouldn’t want to be the first one to get his grades pulled up.”
Though his parents are friendly with Elliott’s, and his older brother was on the same AAU relay team with Elliott, Williams said he didn’t grow up a Buckeyes fan. In the 2014 College Football Playoff title game, he rooted for Oregon.
“I was more of an Oregon fan growing up,” Williams said. “Chip Kelly and the offense at Oregon really blew my mind.”
This summer, while the Meyer story dragged on, Williams visited Oregon, along with Alabama, UCLA and Nebraska. But he stuck with the Buckeyes.
“It was the place for me,” he said.