Williams named top athlete

Published 8:57 pm Friday, July 27, 2012

Washington’s Jimmy Williams (12) stared on the football, basketball and track and field teams in 2011-12 was named the WDN Male Athlete of the Year. (WDN)

One of the most compelling aspects of sports is that you never know when an athlete might give one of those special kind of performances that you will remember for a long time. However, Washington sports fans were spoiled last season as they could pencil in a jaw-dropping exhibition just about any time they sat in the stands to watch Jimmy Williams on the football field, basketball court or compete in track and field events.
In the 2011-12 sports season the Pam Pack junior routinely made highlight-caliber plays as the quarterback for Washington, while on the hardwood his brilliance may have been more subtle but no less valuable. In the spring, Williams was new to the world of track and field but you would never know it as he qualified for the regional meet in the long jump despite battling a hip injury for about half the season.
Overall, Williams dominated on every field, court or arena he competed in making him the top choice for the Washington Daily News Male Athlete of the Year.
“Jimmy is gifted with a lot of athletic talent,” said Washington football coach Sport Sawyer. “His foot speed and natural quickness is just phenomenal. His natural instincts are very good. He just has it.”
Jon Blank, Washington’s track and field coach and defensive coordinator for the football team, has been around a lot of great athletes during his tenure with the school and said that what makes Williams great is his determination.
“He’s a competitive kid,” Blank said. “He works hard — and especially of late he has worked much harder — and I think he’s determined. He wants to do well, he wants to excel and he wants to stand out. He wants to be ‘The Guy’ and I think that’s what separates him a little bit.”
On the field, the the 6-1, 175-pounder creates separation from his opponents with his fleet feet and tremendous natural gifts. As the QB in the Pack’s midline option offense, keeping the ball was often the best option as he rushed for 1,003 yards and nine touchdowns on only 84 carries. Those numbers would have no doubt been higher had he not suffered a concussion in Week 7 against White Oak that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Williams, a WDN All-Area first-team QB also completed 50 percent of his passes for 478 yards and threw for five scores.
Williams said he prefers rushing to passing but when the game is on the line he will do whatever it takes to help his team win.
“I’m real laid back until I feel like I really have to make a play,” Williams said. “That’s when I like to turn it up and go even harder than I’ve been going the whole game.”
Williams’ abilities are so overwhelming that last season Sawyer moved away from his I-formation attack in favor of the midline to better cater to his QB’s athleticism.
“He’s a gamebreaker,” Sawyer said. “On any given play he has the ability to make a play and score.”
On the gridiron Williams’ talent was obvious to anyone in the stands, but on the basketball court his contributions were more understated and didn’t always show up in the box score. The 6-1 G/F played a variety of roles for the Pam Pack as he might be asked to dish out assists one night, score the next or guard the other team’s top offensive threat.
“He brought some versatility to us,” Washington basketball coach Steve Flowers said. “He can play inside or outside for us, he could handle the ball, he could score and play good defense. … We didn’t have a whole lot of height but whoever the opponent’s go-to guy would be, he may not have matched them size-wise, but he could match up athletically with them and cover smaller guys and bigger guys.”
On offense, Williams didn’t demand the ball or force shots, but his quickness and ball-handling skills made him a great option to have if a play broke down.
“That helped us out a lot because a lot of times our offensive sets broke down and we could rely on his improvising,” Flowers said. “Having a guy like this is big for you.”
In the spring Williams jumped on to the track team with hopes of improving his speed and athleticism on the football field and Blank said the rookie looked nothing of the sort as he competed in the 100- and 200-meter dashes as well as the 4×100 and 4×200 relays and the long jump.
“Jimmy was a natural fit for our team,” Blank said. “He was able to come out and fit right in to our relays. He excelled in the long jump right off the bat. We even tried him in hurdles early in the season, I think some injuries limited him there but he naturally fit right into the hurdles as well. I wished we could have kept him in that for the whole season.”
A rising senior, Williams is going into his final year with the Pam Pack and while there is no telling what feat he can accomplish when he laces up his Nikes, the only thing that can be certain is that fans can expect the unexpected.