Listed at 5’ 6” and 175 pounds on his Hudl page (a website used to promote game film to college coaches) is El Campo Ricebirds senior Javien Williams.
For the Ricebirds, Williams isn’t a starting running back, nor is he a defensive back. Instead, the slight and speedy Williams is a defensive tackle for the Ricebirds. Yes, you read that correctly.
On Friday nights, you can see Williams on the line of scrimmage, locked in and waiting for the ball to get snapped. Once the center snaps the ball, the Ricebird defensive tackle zips past offensive linemen on his way to the quarterback.
“I started to notice (Williams) on the freshman level and saw the things he could do as a defensive tackle,” Ricebirds Head Coach Wayne Condra said. “His sophomore year he’d come over and practice with the varsity and we couldn’t block him. It was one of those deals, if we can’t beat him might as well join him. Javien’s got one of those high motors, he’s going to fly around and make things happen.”
Williams’ journey as a defensive tackle started in middle school. He was a running back in youth football but, in seventh-grade, the coaches decided to make the switch and move him to defensive tackle. While he could start at running back for a lot of other teams in the district, Williams has used his speed and elusiveness to slip past the grasps of offensive linemen.
“(I like) being the first one into the backfield,” Williams said. “Playing (against) guys a lot slower than you it’s pretty easy.”
Against Bay City, last Friday Williams blew past the offensive line and met the quarterback at the same time the ball got there. Both instances resulted in a sack.
On the line, he’s paired with Dontavian Bluntson who’s larger and more of a prototypical defensive lineman, allowing Williams to be unleashed. The defensive line pressure and Williams’ speed is one of the reasons why the Ricebirds defense has been formidable this season.
With Williams and Bluntson, both forces in their own way, if a defense double-teams one of them it could leave the other with a free run to the quarterback.
“It’s a tough duo,” Condra said. “It’s been a big plus having those two this year because they help shore things in the middle for us.”
Both seniors, Bluntson remmebers that day at seventh-grade practice when the coaches put Williams next to him on the line.
“It was kind of weird, he was the littlest D-linemen out there,” Bluntson recalled. “But he (went after) it as hard as I did. He wanted to play there so he was determined to learn it and he’s stuck with it.”
“It took a few pretty hard hits and then I started to get it down,” Williams said. “I knew the position early in seventh-grade, but when I got to high school it started to get more complicated with more plays.”
Being a smaller defensive lineman, he’s had to learn to shoot upfield as quick as he can. Once an offensive lineman gets their hands on him, he knows he’s out of the play.
On the Ricebirds roster, he’s listed as a running back in addition to his defensive line work, but he hasn’t seen many carries this season. Even still he’s scored a touchdown from his defensive tackle position this year. Against the Cuero Gobblers, Williams shot into the backfield and knocked the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and ran it back for the touchdown.
Williams while he might not look like a normal defensive lineman he plays much bigger.