Stuck within an uber-talented receivers room, Jameson Williams needed a way out. Under the names of Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba at Ohio State, Williams has become the latest example of a success story via college football’s widely popular transfer portal. A 4-star recruit out of St. Louis, Missouri, Williams’ career found itself in quicksand early from the time he first strapped up in the scarlet and grey. A recruiting trail that has become increasingly competitive since the debut of the portal, Williams’ move to Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide has announced the debut of one of the nation’s most explosive perimeter talents.
While it’s tough to weigh your options when in the thick of your high school tenure, a highly recruited talent like Williams had 35 FBS offers from programs waiting at his feet for his signature come signing day. A full-ride here, a full-ride there, who are we to say Williams made the initial wrong decision when he initially committed to Ryan Day’s Buckeyes just a little over three years ago? With trial comes error, and for a program like the one in Columbus, stars are aplenty (literally), and Williams quickly found out the harsh reality that follows false promises throughout the recruiting cycle.
During his first year on campus, Williams was lost in the wash within a group of experienced upperclassmen and highly-touted newcomers. And sure, you could have placed Williams in the same boat as Wilson—both 4-star recruits, both 2019 high school grads—but a five-month earlier commitment from the latter saw Williams slightly lower on the totem pole before he ever arrived on campus.
A harsh reality, but it’s the way recruiting works.
And while more often than not talent trumps all, early opportunity for Wilson saw him total 432 yards in 2019 (fourth among Buckeyes wideouts) in 13 games played, compared to Williams’ minimal workload where he saw action in just four games, amassing six catches for 112 yards. 2020 proved much of the same, where the Buckeyes’ aerial attack, led by Justin Fields, displayed a two-man show between Olave and Wilson, both of whom recorded more than 700 yards receiving with 13 touchdowns combined. Williams, on the other hand, enjoyed an increased snap count as expected with the departures of K.J. Hill, Binjimen Victor, and Austin Mack, but he once again found himself without a featured role, recording nine catches (sixth on the team) in six games played.
This brings us to today.
Following his disappointing tenure as a Buckeye, Williams inserted his name into the transfer portal in April in hopes of finding greener pastures. A transfer window initially opened in October of 2018, the portal has become a source providing athletes a path to ultimately explore their options beyond the walls of their current program. Players do not need to ask permission from their coaching staff in order to transfer, and it usually takes just a few days for a player to appear in the database following their request. While a player ultimately entering their name in the portal means they intend to explore their options, it does not necessarily mean they will always leave; a player is free to withdraw his name at any time. However, just as the player is free to test the waters, a program once tied to an athlete is under no obligation to keep a player on scholarship once they enter the portal. The saying goes that while the “grass is greener on the side, so is the water bill,” and the risks of Williams leaving Columbus presented a slew of unknowns as a newcomer to an Alabama program with just as many high-profile talents as the one he left. However, as Nick Saban often does, he struck gold in Williams, and his presence for the Crimson Tide has been a match made in heaven for the No. 3 ranked Tide.
With DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle off to the NFL, Alabama was the premier spot for Williams who saw an opportunity to not only compete but earn his long-sought-after starting job. And while the presence of John Metchie III, Slade Bolden, and exciting first-year talents in JoJo Earle and Agiye Hall were obvious competition, iron sharpens iron, and the dynamic skill set laced within Williams’ wiry 6-foot-1 frame has progressed the once looked over pass-catcher in Columbus into WR1 for a program overflowing in historic prestige on the boundary.
Just one of four wideouts in the SEC with more than 600 receiving yards through eight games played, Williams has totaled 35 catches for 710 yards and six touchdowns, leading all Crimson Tide pass-catchers. A lightning-in-a-bottle-type player with the ability to take it the distance at a moment’s notice, Williams has also shown a knack for the spectacular, returning two kicks for touchdowns (tops in the nation).
A pass-catcher that dominates at the onset of a route due to his explosive quickness and short-area burst, Williams’ ability to couple his isolation skills with sure hands and YAC ability is unmatched by many in college football. With an eerily similar frame to that of former Crimson Tide standout and Denver Broncos first-rounder Jerry Jeudy, Williams’ streamlined build allows him to blow past defenders at a moment’s notice while also touting the necessary footwork and route-running prowess to break off his routes in the blink of an eye.
He’s been excellent all year, and with 346 yards receiving via 18 receptions the last three games combined, there are no signs of the Crimson Tide’s newfound premier playmaker slowing down anytime soon.
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