How the Broncos RB Javonte Williams became the pride of his hometown
About six or seven years later, Jason Tudryn was driving through eastern North Carolina, where if it weren’t for the occasional high school, the farmland would stretch seemingly forever.
For this trip, Tudryn, who was the director of high school relations for the North Carolina Tar Heels, was joined by his boss, head coach Larry Fedora. UNC’s football program was coming up empty-handed in its recruiting efforts for some of the state’s top running backs, like Zamir White, who signed up for Georgia, and Ricky Person Jr., who signed on. is found at NC State.
As the pair weighed their options between recruiting stops, the conversation turned to a small-town kid who had been a dominant but undersized linebacker for three years before shifting to running back for his last season.
“We were kind of knocking with all these other guys,” Tudryn said. “I had watched, really, all of Javonte’s games, because he was playing in attack and defense. … I said, Coach, he’s the best player in the state, and that’s not even close. To his credit, he trusted me enough not to say, Yeah, whatever, shut up. He said, All right, let’s get to him. let’s see it again.”
The fact that Javonte hadn’t committed to college this late in his senior season was a small miracle in itself for Carolina. Here is a kid who would be valedictorian of a class of 130 or 140; who had won a state championship in North Carolina’s 1AA ranking in each of his first three seasons; who had been defensive MVP of the title game as a sophomore; and who had been the overall MVP of the title game and the county’s Mr. Football selection as a junior.
Despite all these accolades, he received little attention from Division-I programs. His coaches, however, knew better than anyone that Javonte was special enough to deserve more than he was getting.
In the three years Joey Price spent coaching Javonte at Wallace-Rose Hill, he was overwhelmed with maturity that matched or exceeded Javonte’s talent. Javonte’s mother had ingrained in him and his sister that education came first, and he came home with report cards that rarely, if ever, disappointed him. He graduated with a 4.6 GPA, and Price when recalled that Javonte’s worst mark was a 97. As a leader in the locker room, Javonte was also able to command the respect of his teammates who were several years older.
On the court, from his position at center linebacker, Javonte was a nightmare – physical, fluid and a quick thinker. During his sophomore and junior seasons, he recorded 377 tackles. One streak that Price remembers clearly is back-to-back plays on the goal line; Javonte met the fullback – who Price estimates was about 60 pounds heavier – in the hole both times and dropped him to avoid touchdowns.
“He’s such a calm-mannered kid who doesn’t have much to say with his mouth, but when he hits you, it hurts you,” Price said. “…I don’t mean that the wrong way – I bet now if they put him on defense in Denver he would still make plays because his engine is such [that] he won’t let you let him.
“That’s why he breaks tackles. That’s why he keeps running. He’s got something about him that’s different from everyone else.”
Price began giving Javonte an important role in a rotation of already talented running backs as a junior, increasing his runs as the Bulldogs cruised through the playoffs to a third consecutive title. Over the five playoff games, he averaged 137 all-purpose yards and about 10 tackles per game, and he scored 11 total touchdowns — seven rushing, two receiving and two defensively.
Still, Javonte still didn’t have much interest in him in the major programs. At 5-foot-10 and just under 200 pounds, Javonte was apparently held back by his size at linebacker — even though he was benched and cleans 350 pounds and squats about 435 — “unheard-of numbers,” as the said Price.
“How could you watch those highlights, though, and not want that kid?” Price said. “What are college coaches watching these days? I can’t figure it out.”
After that season, Price retired. His successor, Kevin Motsinger, met with his team to assess their squad ahead of the 2017 season, and they agreed it would be in their interest – and Javonte’s, if it worked – to have him play a primarily attacking role. .
“When I told him that he would mainly play attack, he was a bit disappointed,” Motsinger said. “I wouldn’t say he was upset or angry, but I mean he had been a linebacker his whole life. I asked him how many offers he had, and he didn’t have any. So for me, his way of getting somewhere was at running back…. Look at his talent, his body control, his physique… his ball skills. He was the complete package.
As he transitioned to running back, Javonte’s training regimen changed. Motsinger helped him improve his hip flexibility to maintain his speed, and he focused on improving his frame. From the time Motsinger first weighed him in 2017 until late November of that year, Javonte went from 187 pounds to 214.
This nearly 30-pound makeover also necessitated a change in meal planning in the Williams household, and the home grill received almost daily orders.
“It was steak,” Shekemia says. “…I would say he probably ate four or five steaks a week. … He had to have two after every game.