Tag Archives: James Williams

James Williams Experiences Life in the Real World of Pro Football

On a weekend when the NFL Draft is going on, James Williams can reflect a year later how he had sat in front of the television set waiting for his name to be called in 2019.

It never happened. Perhaps it was a combination of timing and bad luck. Williams said pulling a hamstring on his Pro Day workout just weeks before the draft certainly didn’t help.

The former Burbank High star running back, who will turn 24 next month, signed as a free agent with three teams and also worked out with an additional three NFL teams.
He played in one preseason NFL game last summer and that inspired him to continue with the sport he has always loved.

For now, much of what goes on in his career is contingent upon the emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officially a running back, Williams became a dual threat at Washington State University.
He finished his career with 1,540 yards rushing on 316 carries, scoring 19 touchdowns. He also had 202 career receptions for 1,437 yards and eight more touchdowns.

He has signed a one-year contract to play with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, which was scheduled to get underway next month.

“I was supposed to leave on May 11, but that’s not happening any more. They let us know that it might be postponed,” Williams said from his home in Idaho, just a short distance from the Washington State campus.” They aren’t letting anyone in. They aren’t opening the borders to any non-citizens. We were supposed to practice for two weeks and then we were going to have our first game.”

James Williams ran a camp at Burbank High last summer.

So in the meantime, Williams has continued to stay in shape and is helping work as a private trainer for aspiring high school football players who hope to move to the collegiate level. He said social distancing restrictions in Idaho are not as strict as in California.

“It is probably good that I’m here because there’s not that many cases up here. Right now to make money I’m training kids. Basically what I’m doing is getting them to that next step,” Williams said. “I’m doing a lot of stuff that I was doing in college and a lot of personal stuff, like footwork. I have some running backs and a couple of linebackers and I’m fixing form and running techniques.”

He said the element he brings is the experience to the local kids that they usually have to travel long distances to find.

“Instead of spending $2 to $3,000 to fly to LA or Orlando or Seattle, the kids can do it here for a lot cheaper,” he said.

But before he started the private coaching, Williams has gone on an adventure over the past year that saw the NFL Draft come and go, but most importantly, the birth of his son, Rush, who will turn one in July.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time with my son. Despite everything that has happened as far as my career goes, I’m kind of glad it happened. I would have been gone all this time and my son probably wouldn’t have known who I was,” Williams said. “Anyone that knows me I’m a super family-oriented person. I don’t want to have anything come between me and my kids. I told my coach, I’m not missing my son’s first birthday.”

James Williams in his high school days against Burroughs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Within hours of not getting drafted last spring, Williams immediately inked a free agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, who are coached by former Glendale Community College offensive lineman Andy Reid.

But he soon realized his baptism into the NFL was a lot more difficult than he had anticipated.

“The Chiefs have the hardest playbook in the league. The rumor was that I didn’t get the playbook down. I was like you gave us 55 plays a day for a month,” Williams said. “I’ve never had that many plays in my life. When I was in college and high school, I was in a no-huddle, fast-paced offense all my life. I got cussed out because I was a long way away from the huddle. I said coach, I’ve never been in a huddle before. Not even in junior high when I was playing for the (Burbank) Vikings.  That’s not something I came to camp thinking.  I was running with a bunch of guys from LSU, Oklahoma and all these SEC schools that huddle every time. Watching the NFL, I don’t pay attention where they stand when they huddle. That’s an honest thing that I had never done before.”

Williams, who said he didn’t believe his hamstring was fully recovered during his stint with Kansas City until the very end. He was waived on June 13.
Just days later, Williams’ phone rang again. This time it was from the Washington Redskins.

“They told me to pack like I’m staying. I’m working out with two or three veteran backs that have been there (in the league) for five years. I don’t have those footwork drills,” Williams said.  “You knew these guys knew what they were doing.  It was crispy, it was tight. They knew exactly what the coach was going to ask them.  It was unfortunate for me because I was a rookie and I was still new. I only know as much as what the Chiefs told me.”

James Williams siged  his National Letter of Intent for Washington State University at Burbank High. (Photo By Edward Tovmassian)

Williams left Washington without an offer from the Redskins.
“When I came back from Washington, the next day Green Bay called me. I hadn’t even unpacked yet. They told me to get the next flight. I get there and there’s a couple of running backs from UCLA, which I’m really good friends with now,” Williams said. ”They (Green Bay) had already signed a running back so I asked my agent why am I coming, this makes no sense. He said it Is just to get you exposure. I got sent home and they said they put me on their short list.”

Still settling in after the long flight, Williams gets another call.

“The next morning Indianapolis calls me. I got lucky with that one because somebody (else) missed their flight. I had a really good workout. They said we’re going to sign you and I got cut two days later because a defensive lineman got hurt and they said it was a numbers game,” Williams recalled. “There was already nine running backs in the room, so I knew I was going home when I saw that. When people get hurt they have to make room, so they may have to get rid of people that are fresh or people that they don’t think are going to make it. I was a fresh guy because I was only there for two days.”

Having already gone through workouts with four teams, Williams got a call that was certainly an eye openeer as the most successful organization in the league over the past two decades called.

“Two days later the Patriots called me. I was like this is a great fit for me. I knew they were going to call me at some point because James White and I play the same. We have the same type of game. The offense is no different than coach (Mike) Leach’s (Washington State) offense, it’s just more plays basically,” Williams said. “I get down there and they liked me but sent me home.”

Burbank High’s James Williams in practice with Washington State (photo courtesy of Washington State University).

Tired from a number of trips to the East Coast, Williams is feeling luck isn’t going his way.

“I fly into Salt Lake City before I get to Lewiston I had a three-hour layover. Detroit calls me and says we want to you to (come here). I called my agent and said I’m not going to Detroit. I had been on like 20 flights and crazy amounts of time and my son was just born and I didn’t want to be away from him,” Williams said.

Making the tough choice, Williams decided to not give up on his dream and flew into the Motor City.

“The Lions did it exactly the way I wanted it to happen. They gave me a script with about six or seven plays and he was like get these plays down. They worked with me until I got it down. They were super convenient about everything. Everything was super professional,” Williams said.

It was at this point that Williams said he was surprised to actually get into a preseason game on August 29, as the Lions played the Cleveland Browns.
He had four carries for minus 1 yard rushing. He had one reception for five yards.

“Everything was the same just like in college. We went to the hotel and all that stuff until the game started. Then it felt like a movie, everything after that. Just putting on an NFL uniform made everything I went through worth it. That’s why I’m still going now. If I didn’t get in that preseason game I would have been done. I was going to get into coaching.”

Although he didn’t stick with the Lions, Williams is hoping that he can some experience in Canada, with hopes of getting a second crack at the NFL for the 2021 season.

“I don’t have any film right now, so the NFL isn’t about to pick me up if they haven’t seen me play,” he said.

James Williams Inaugural Football Camp Is Success

By Rick Assad


Football is a very physical game that requires not only brute strength, but also uncommon speed.

There are two types of speed. Straightaway or vertical that wide receivers, free safeties and cornerbacks have and quick bursts that also sometimes demand a change of direction that elite running backs possess.

James Williams, the best tailback in Burbank High’s long football history, had the latter and it was on display during a standout three-year career for the Bulldogs.

James Williams, a former Burbank High tailback and onetime Washington State standout, talks to the campers. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In his junior season, Williams ran for 1,469 yards in 164 carries and set a school record with 22 touchdowns.

For good measure, Williams added 482 yards on 22 receptions with five scores.

Williams helped Burbank finish 10-3 overall and advance to the CIF Southern Section semifinals in the Southeast Division playoffs that campaign.

The ability to change direction on a dime was also evident when Williams, who redshirted as a freshman, played in the Washington State University backfield for three seasons.

For the 11 eager boys ages six through 16 at the first day of the three-day inaugural James Williams Football Camp at Kemp-Kallem Field on Tuesday, they learned how to explode off the ball and change direction.

Williams, an undrafted free agent who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in late April, but was ultimately released, said it’s one of the most important things anyone who wants to play football can learn.

James Williams instructing young campers on the finer points of football. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I went there for a month,” said Williams of the Chiefs camp. “I was hurt the first three weeks. I pulled my hamstring. The playbook was crazy. But I was getting it. Everybody had the playbook a week before I did. I made the most of it.”

Williams, who is also expecting a baby, said there’s a possibility the Arizona Cardinals or Tampa Bay Buccaneers may call, but if they don’t, he has no regrets.

“I want to keep my options open. I want to finish school. I can’t look back,” he said.

Williams, who was a two-time All-CIF Southeast Division first-team pick, said that when he went to summer football camp, he felt somewhat out of place and a little bit lost because he didn’t know what to expect.

The youngsters are eager to learn about football, especially when it comes from James Williams. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The reason why I wanted to do it [his camp], I was sitting back and I was thinking about when I was a camper and I didn’t know a lot of the fancy things they were doing at the Notre Dame and Crespi Camp,” Williams said. “I was in the back of the line just trying to figure out what they were doing. I want to do a condensed version of the drills that I did in college and the league.”

Burbank coach Adam Colman, who played quarterback at Burbank, helped out during the day’s activities which began at 11 a.m.

“When James reached out about doing a camp, it was an awesome opportunity for the city and the kids especially,” Colman said. “Growing up here, there’s always a couple of camps here and there, but they’re usually parks and rec camps. And now you get a guy like James, who played at the highest level and has those experiences and someone all the kids look up to.”

James Williams hopes to continue his dream of playing in the NFL despite being released by the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Colman continued: “He wanted to make sure to make it happen for them. To see the guys who came up from Burbank and represent the city and being really proud of being from Burbank and going to Burbank schools,” he said. “It’s not every day you get a guy who played at the college level and the pro level and pass on their knowledge and hope it trickles down.”

The three-hour camp commenced with the boys stretching and exercising for 25 minutes.

Williams, who came to Burbank from Toledo, Ohio, finished with 3,090 all-purpose yards for the Cougars, wants to give back and hopes to make his camp and annual event.

“My time here, it was amazing,” he said. “Burbank gave me a lot. So that’s why I’m doing this right now. They treated me like I belonged here. The same with Washington State. They treated me like I was already at home.”

Running drills and sprint drills were next on the agenda. Then four half-rounds were laid out on the field, one yard apart and were used for agility drills.

One of several water breaks followed before the youngsters faced their next challenge.

There were three cones set apart three yards. Williams, who ran for 1,443 yards with 17 touchdowns and tacked on 101 yards on 11 catches as a sophomore at Burbank and was tabbed the Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year, would then yell out a number which corresponded to the shortest distance, the middle distance and the longest distance.

For instance, Williams would say 3, 5 and 7. That meant they would run to the shortest distance and back. The middle distance and back and finally the longest distance and back.

Williams, who had 27 career touchdowns at Washington State, the fourth-most, would then change the numbers to make sure they knew which to run to.

For this drill, Williams said the key to doing it well and for maximum speed is to keep as low to the ground as possible.

The next assignment was to move between an obstacle with the football as they zig-zaged back and forth and then run toward a cone about 10 yards down the field. Again, this would help them with change of direction.

What followed next was one offensive lineman trying to hold off an oncoming defensive lineman who tried to get around his man and knock the football that was atop a tackling dummy.

The final event was a game between three receivers versus three defenders with Williams, who capped his time at Washington State with 1,583 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns along with 202 catches for 1,437 receiving yards and eight scores, dropping back and finding an open receiver. The ball moved down the field and eventually into the end zone.

James Williams Already Well Known at Washington State

James Williams still has lots of playing time left at Washington State University.

The redshirt sophomore and former Burbank High star running back made a significant impact last season and his coach and teammates have even higher expectations for him this season.

Head coach Mike Leach, fellow running back Jamal Morrow and linebacker Peyton Pelluer were on hand for Pacific-12 Conference Football Media Day Thursday at Hollywood and Highland to share their thoughts about Williams and the Cougars’ upcoming season. Washington State opens its season Sept. 3 at home against Montana State, the first of five consecutive home games. The Cougars will not play any regular season games in Southern California this season.

After going 8-5 last season, Washington State has many returners, led by quarterback Luke Falk. Also included are his top three in the backfield, where Williams shared time with seniors Morrow and Gerard Wicks. Last season Williams had 102 carries for 584 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. He also had 48 receptions for 342 yards and one touchdown. His 953 all-purpose yards were second on the team behind Morrow’s 1,063.

“He’s a focused guy. If you’re in a bad mood, just hang around James. He’s always in a good mood,” Leach said. “He plays hard and works hard. The most important thing is he really loves football. James is real talented. I think he’s going to get better and better and better. He got a lot of reps last year and I think he’ll get even more this year.”

Pelleur said he is glad he doesn’t have to play against Williams on Saturdays.

Burbank High’s James Williams should have another big season at Washington State. (photo courtesy of Washington State University).

“I can tell you first hand that he is tough to tackle. He’s probably the slipperiest player we have on the team,” the senior linebacker said. “He gives me a headache and makes me look foolish sometimes. But he makes everyone better because of how hard he plays and how hard he runs. We’re definitely fortunate to have him on our team. I’m excited to see what he’s going to do this year. He’s had a great summer so far. He had a great spring as well. We’re excited to see him make moves on opponents instead of us for once.”

Morrow, who has shared playing time with Williams, said he likes many things about the former Bulldog.

“James is a character. He’s always going to make you laugh,” Morrow said. “You could have a bad day and you see James and you’ve got to smile when you see him. He brings a certain energy to our running back group. He’s a funny guy. You have to love him, especially the stuff he does on the field. Like the Oregon State play when he had two spin moves on one play and I was like ‘wow’. He’s definitely going to be a stud in this conference.”

Even though Morrow has more experience, he said he has learned from Williams.

“You just can’t tackle the kid. He’s always going to make the first guy miss,” Morrow said. “You look at the stuff he does and you’re like let me try to incorporate that into my game.”

Leach said he has liked some of the things he has seen from Williams in practice, even dating back to last season. Williams redshirted his true freshman year after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee as a senior at Burbank.

He (went) out there as a freshman and he’s kind of showing up some of the older defensive players,” Leach said of some practices. “They tried to hit him hard. He wasn’t even aware of it. He wasn’t aware that they were ticked off at him.”

James Williams while at Burbank High.

Leach said Williams played with a broken hand last season, but was still used in passing situations.

“I got worried about it, but he hit the club hand and he’d catch it anyway,” Leach said.

Morrow said he has seen Williams grow in so many ways in the two years he has known him.

“That redshirt year helped him a lot. He got his strength back and his confidence back,” Morrow said. “If you would have seen him when he first got up here, he was like thinking too much. He wasn’t sure. He was thinking about his knee. He came back that spring and had one of the greatest springs I’ve seen since I’ve been up here. In the summer, he’s looking fast and strong. We expect big things from him this year.”




Burbank High’s James Williams Is Back, Stronger Than Ever

It has been a long time since James Williams has played in an official football game.

Williams last suited up Sept. 5, 2014, the second game of his senior year at Burbank High when he tore his medial collateral ligament and anterior cruciate ligament.

Fast forward two years and the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Williams is ready to help Washington State University as it seeks to improve on a 9-4 mark in 2015, which saw the Cougars go 6-3 in Pacific-12 Conference play.

“I don’t really think about it,” Williams said of the injury.  “It took a year to get back in shape and I used my redshirt year to get stronger. I feel 100 percent.  I’m stronger than I ever was.”

James Williams looks to get some significant playing time. (Photo courtesy of Washington State University).

James Williams looks to get some significant playing time. (Photo courtesy of Washington State University).

Williams, who played tailback at Burbank, could see time in a number of roles as a redshirt freshman.  In Washington State’s Spring Game in April, Williams raised some eyebrows as he had six carries for 42 yards and scored one touchdown.

“I’m going to do whatever I can to help us win whether that’s running the ball, catching the ball, picking up blocks, (or) playing special teams,” Williams said. “I just want to help Washington State win.”

Although he is far away from Burbank, Williams still keeps in close contact with those at home.

“I talk to coach Brew (Richard Broussard) every once in a while,” Williams said. “We talk about (how) Burbank’s camp is going and also how I’m doing.”

Williams’ interest in Burbank is enhanced because his younger brother Darnell is a junior running back for the Bulldogs. Darnell earned second-team all-league honors last season.

“He sends me clips all the time of his practices so I give him tips and suggestions every day,” Williams said of his brother.

Williams will not get the opportunity to play USC this season and the game against UCLA is at Washington State. Thus, he will not have a chance to come play in front of family and friends this season.

“We will be back in SoCal in the next couple of years to play USC and UCLA, so I will get excited to come home and play when those games come along,” Williams said.

Getting an opportunity to play for a team with lofty expectations is something that Williams is looking forward to.

Washington State is ranked No. 18 in Sports Illustrated’s preseason poll.

“We are very excited for this season,” Williams said. “We had a good season and are looking to build off a good year and I am looking to contribute however I can so we can win as many games as possible.”

Washington State opens the season Sept. 3 at home against Eastern Washington University.



Burbank’s James Williams Signs Letter of Intent to Washington State

James Williams signs his National Letter of Intent for Washington State University (Photo By Edward Tovmassian)

James Williams signs his National Letter of Intent for Washington State University (Photo By Edward Tovmassian)

By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor

The numbers are staggering.

School record 2,978 career yards

School record 9.42 yards per carry

School record 15 100-yard rushing games

School record 35 career rushing touchdowns

School record 22 rushing touchdowns in a single season (2013)

School record 2,307 all-purpose yards in a single season (2013)

School record 278 rushing yards vs. Crescenta Valley; single game record (2013)

With his parents, brother and sister by his side, James prepares to FAX over his LOI to Wazzou (Photo By Edward Tovmassian)

With his parents, brother and sister by his side, James prepares to FAX over his LOI to Wazzou (Photo By Edward Tovmassian)

James Williams accomplished those illustrious records despite playing in less than two games this past fall. A torn ACL shut down what would have been a historic season for the record books and a memorable senior campaign.

Yet Williams never quite experienced what occurred Wednesday afternoon during a special lunchtime ceremony on the Burbank High quad in his honor. This day trumped all records.

Years of hard work and dedication were rewarded with one simple yet meaningful signature of his. February 4 was National Signing Day for athletes to firmly commit to the college of their choice. Williams stayed true to his word and made his verbal to Washington State back in June a reality.

Assistant Principal of Athletics Matt La Belle (lt) and Burbank High held a signing ceremony in honor of James (Photo By Edward Tovmassian)

Assistant Principal of Athletics Matt La Belle (lt) and Burbank High held a signing ceremony in honor of James (Photo By Edward Tovmassian)

In front of his parents, family members, Coach Richard Broussard, Principal Michael Bertram, Assistant Principal for Athletics Matt LaBelle, friends and teammates, Williams officially became a Wazzou Cougar when he signed his National Letter of Intent.

It was a day that he would never forget.

“This means a lot. This is by far one of the best days of my life,” Williams said. “I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get started.”

Broussard, who has mentored and guided Williams during his high school career, walked around campus with his head high while his star tailback basked in the spotlight surrounded by everyone who was a part of his high school career.

“I’m beaming right now,” Broussard said. “He’s been through so much. We all know the story. To have his season cut short and still have Wazzou stick with him is an honor. To get to this day is a blessing.”

James Williams re-wrote the record books for Burbank Football (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

James Williams re-wrote the record books for Burbank Football (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Williams will make the northern trek to Pullman, Washington, during the summer to begin his journey at the collegiate level. People in the Northwest are getting a talented athlete who is worth the price of admission.

“I expect him to go out there and play,” said Broussard. “I know the work ethic of this kid. He will be ready to go. It’s going to be fun.”

Williams was rated a 3-star athlete by Rivals.com and Scout.com. He was the 99th rated player in California and the 53rd ranked running back in the country.

A 3-year varsity letterman, Williams was the Pacific League Offensive MVP for two consecutive seasons. He was also a two-time All-CIF recipient.

On this day, accolades were set aside and reality set in. James Williams is on his way to play Division I football for Washington State University.

“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was six,” said Williams.


Read our article on James when he first committed to WSU in June-



Burbank Succumbs to Canyon in 35-21 Loss

Burbank's Brandon Alba scores with a throng of sportswriters watching (Photo by Craig Sherwood)

Burbank’s Brandon Alba scores with a throng of sportswriters watching (Photo by Craig Sherwood)

By Dick Dornan
myBurbank Sports Editor

The next chapter of Burbank football has officially begun.

With senior James Williams sidelined for the rest of the season because of a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee, the Burbank High football team took to the field for the first time since 2011 without the services of its superstar tailback.

The Bulldogs battled all evening long but shortcomings on both sides of the ball during the third and early fourth quarter proved to be the difference as Canyon pulled away and defeated Burbank, 35-21, Friday night at Harry Welch Field.

Tony Toledo rushed for 73 yards on 15 carries (Photo by Craig Sherwood)

Tony Toledo rushed for 73 yards on 15 carries (Photo by Craig Sherwood)

“I thought our kids fought hard. We battled. We represented Burbank to the fullest. I’m proud of them,” Burbank coach Richard Broussard said. “We have a long season ahead of us. We have things that we need to clean up. We just didn’t make enough plays. We made some plays just not enough. We have some things to work on but we had heart tonight.”

Williams’ high school career was ended prematurely when he suffered the injury on the opening kickoff against Bell Gardens two weeks ago. He finished his sparkling two-year run as the area’s best running back with 2,612 yards which ranks him second all-time at BHS just 466 yards behind Ulises Ochoa.

Williams, who has committed to Washington State University, scored 40 career touchdowns slicing and dicing his way through defenses.

With Williams now a spectator on the sideline yelling and cheering his teammates on, the Bulldogs will have to collectively rely on each other to have a productive and positive season.

When asked if the shock of losing Williams had an effect on the game, Broussard vehemently said no.

Burbank gave Canyon all it could handle for most of the game (Photo by Craig Sherwood)

Burbank gave Canyon all it could handle for most of the game (Photo by Craig Sherwood)

“Heck no. We were the most hyped we’ve ever been. Our guys were excited about this game,” he said. “I’m sure people were shocked how well we played against this team. We have some tough little scrappy kids from Burbank.”

The first half was well played as both teams exchanged touchdowns to enter halftime tied at 14 apiece.

Canyon (2-2) began the scoring with a 53-yard catch and run to the house on the third play of the game.

Burbank (2-1) tied it a seven when senior quarterback Ryan Meredith snuck in from one yard out with 3:12 left in the first quarter.

Early in the second period, the Bulldogs took advantage of a Canyon penalty on fourth down (illegal participation) and kept its drive going when Brandon Alba scored on a fly sweep from four yards. A 32-yard pass from Meredith to Dorian Houshoulder sparked the drive.

Burbank maintained a 14-7 lead until Canyon’s Myron McAfee burst through the Bulldogs defense en route to a 77 yard touchdown run that sent the teams into the locker room deadlocked at 14.

The Bulldogs went into a funk for the next quarter-and-a-half with penalties, poor tackling and an inept offense that allowed Canyon to take a commanding 35-14 lead with 6:29 left in the game.

Ryan Meredith scrambles as he looks for a receiver down field (Photo by Craig Sherwood)

Ryan Meredith scrambles as he looks for a receiver down field (Photo by Craig Sherwood)

Reality had set in that Williams was no longer on the field to make the big play. For the first time in the game, Bulldog players appeared lost and in need of a spark.

“We’re so used to making big plays that we were getting complacent because 21 (Williams) wasn’t out there to hit the home run,” Broussard said. “Ryan had to grind this thing out. We will take what they give us and move the ball.”

Meredith, who completed 18 of 27 for 174 yards, was his own worst enemy in the third quarter throwing an interception and multiple incompletions while visibly getting down on himself.

“Ryan is his own worst critic. He’s hard on himself,” Broussard said. “But he was slinging it on that last drive.”

And sling it he did completing seven of eight passes for 91 yards on Burbank’s final drive which culminated when Tony Toledo scored from a yard out to make it 35-21 with 2:31 remaining in the contest.

Toledo rushed for 73 yards on 15 carries. Houshoulder caught six passes for 101 yards. But there was no escaping the fact that Williams’ absence, now permanent, had an effect on the team emotionally and physically.

“We definitely wanted to go out and play hard for James because he’s my brother,” Houshoulder said. “I’ve been playing with him since freshman year. I love him to death. I want to show him that we can still ball out.”

“We have a lot to play for this season,” Toledo added. “James was our best player but we have to all step up now. We’re going to miss him but it’s up to us now to make it happen. We just have to play hard all game and we can do it.”

Burbank plays at Pasadena (1-2) next Friday in its Pacific League opener at 7 p.m.

Burbank’s James Williams Turns Football Dream into a Reality


Burbank star James Williams is Washington State-bound in 2015 (Photo courtesy of James Williams twitter)

By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor

Summer football begins Monday for the Burbank High football team and no one is more revved up than senior tailback James Williams.

With talent oozing on every breathtaking move of his, Williams fulfilled a lifetime dream by being offered a division one scholarship. He then made it a reality when he verbally committed to Washington State University last month.

“When they (Washington State) told me they wanted to offer me a full scholarship I was very excited. I knew that my dream was coming true,” Williams said. “It took a lot of weight off my shoulders. Now I don’t have to worry about going to all these camps spending a lot of money. All I have to do now is worry about school, football and passing my SAT.”

James Williams

James Williams

First-year Burbank head coach Richard Broussard has been smiling ear-to-ear seeing his prodigy reap the reward of hard work.

“James deserves it. He’s our hardest worker and our best player,” Broussard said. “If anyone deserves a scholarship offer and the opportunity to play college football, it’s him. He worked for it and he earned it. When you’re good and you work hard, good things happen to you.”

With one season left at Burbank, Williams has three goals left in mind: first, to win a league title. Second, to win the schools’ first-ever CIF championship. Third, to set the school single-season rushing record. All of these goals are within reach.

Burbank’s nemesis in the Pacific League recently has been Muir. The Mustangs have won back-to-back league titles during Williams’ time on the varsity.

A year ago the Bulldogs lost in the CIF Southeast Division semifinals to La Serna, 28-21, the eventual CIF champions. Burbank won a school record 10 games but didn’t have a healthy Williams for the tilt against the Lancers.

What might have been with a healthy James Williams we will never know?  We can only speculate.

The school records continue to pile up for James Williams (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The school records continue to pile up for James Williams (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

What we do know is that Williams has rushed for a school record 2,912 career rushing yards on 297 carries for a whopping 9.81 yards per carry in his two high school seasons. He ran for 1,443 yards in 2012 and 1,469 in 2013.

Ulises Ochoa currently has the single-season school record with 1,504 yards set in 2009.

Williams scored a single-season school record 22 rushing touchdowns last year and has hit pay dirt 39 times overall running the ball.

When taking into account all-purpose yardage, Williams set the single-season school record in 2013 with 2,307 yards. He has lit up the scoreboard 46 times in his two seasons.

Against Crescenta Valley last year, Williams ran wild for 278 yards, the most ever in a game in BHS history.

“I’m just glad I don’t have to play against him,” said Broussard. “He’s a freak of nature. He does some amazing things with the ball in his hands.”

Add it all up and Williams’ talent and sheer ability have resulted in five college offers thus far: Washington State, Arizona, California, San Diego State and Utah.

Washington State coach Mike Leach with James Williams last week

Washington State coach Mike Leach with James Williams last week (Photo courtesy of James Williams twitter)

This past weekend Williams visited Wazzou and hasn’t wavered in his commitment to the Cougars.

“Washington State’s running back gets the ball a lot more than anyone on the field. I can go there and catch, and run, block and do everything,” he said. “I’m trying to get as big and as fast I can before the season. I want to be ready for the Pac-12.”

Will the bitter cold of Pullman, Wash., in the Northwest be an issue?

“The cold won’t be anything because I’m from Ohio,” said the Ohio-born Williams.

The regular season begins August 29 at Ayala. Expect Broussard to give the ball to Williams more than he has ever before. A record-breaking season by Williams and possibly a championship season in one form or another by the Bulldogs will be at the forefront for 2014.

In the meantime, Williams’ commitment to WSU is an ongoing celebration for the Burbank family.

“It’s awesome and great for the school. The amount of exposure with a bunch of division one schools on campus has been great,” Broussard said. “We’ve never had this much traffic since I’ve been here. We are blessed to be over here at Burbank. We need to relish in it and appreciate it.”