Brentaro Yamane | Staff Writer
Oct. 8, 2020
Duquesne’s football team has continued to impressively recruit lately, recently securing a verbal commitment from Jaheim Williams, a running back and linebacker at Cathedral Preparatory School in Erie, Pa.
Williams is currently a senior at Cathedral Prep and is making a big name for himself at the school in the process. He verbally committed to Duquesne on Sept. 28.
Luckily for him, he is able to have a senior year of high school football, as many prep football players across the country are unable to compete due to the COVID-19 virus. Some players’ seasons are canceled, others’ seasons are postponed.
Since Williams was a little kid, he fell in love with the sport of football. When he started watching professional football on television, he knew he wanted to be just like the athletes on the screen.
“I knew I wanted to play football since I was a little kid when I would watch the big boys on television,” Williams said. “I told my mom and dad I wanted to be just like them playing in the NFL. Since then, I have just been in love with the game, grinding day in and day out.”
Many kids’ dreams include playing football, eventually working their way into the spotlight. However, Williams’ love of the game has motivated him to help his family in the future. Essentially, he puts his family first, even before himself.
“I do this for my family; I’m not going to get into it, but no one knows what my family has and still goes through. I have to make it. It’s my only choice,” Williams said. “I’m tired of my parents working day in and day out just to go to sleep and do it all over again.
“My high school number is 29 because I have two parents and nine siblings. I play football for them; that’s what really got me into the game of football. It’s not all about Jaheim Williams — it’s about the Williams’. Remember that.”
In high school, Williams has won two district championships (2018, 2019), and one state championship (‘19). Duquesne specifically recruited him as a linebacker. Give Duquesne coaches Kory Gribbin and Scott Farison credit for Williams’ commitment, as they were vital in his recruitment.
Williams has played a huge role on Cathedral Preparatory’s defense so far this season; it’s a huge reason why the Ramblers have been so good, boasting a 3-1 record.
Williams stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs in at 215 pounds. During his sophomore year in 2018, he recorded 97 tackles, then upped his total to 114 tackles during his junior year in 2019. The fact that he is naturally bigger gave him the confidence to know that he can play at the collegiate level — if he put his mind to it.
“When I was in ninth grade, everyone would comment on how bigger I was than everyone and how talented I was. Then, in my sophomore year, I started playing varsity. It really opened my eyes that, at this pace, if I keep growing and grinding and putting the work in, I could play at the Division I level. It was always a dream of mine anyway,” Williams said.
Clarion University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Lake Erie College, University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Notre Dame College were some of the other schools that Williams was interested in attending. Duquesne was the only NCAA Division I school that offered Williams, and he took the offer in a heartbeat. He said he’s happy with his decision to commit to Duquesne.
“I was always told, ‘Go where you are wanted, not where you want to go.’ Duquesne’s coaching staff showed me and my family true care, and they showed that they actually wanted me,” Williams said. “Coach Gribbin would text me daily — he’d check in on me randomly to see how I [was] doing, and it’s the little things like those that made my decision.”
Currently, Billy Lucas, Jaelen Carson and Collin Johnson all play on Duquesne’s football team; all three of them were high school teammates with Williams at Cathedral Preparatory. The fact that Lucas, Carson and Johnson told Williams how much they liked Duquesne helped Williams in making his decision.
“They all pretty much said the same thing, really, when they talked about Duquesne. Everyone gets along, team chemistry is great. Most importantly, even outside of football, the coaches want the best for you,” Williams said.
With Williams’ college decision now out of the way, he can focus on trying to help Cathedral Prep win another district championship, and perhaps even another state championship.
Even though his college decision is over, it does not change his attitude or who he is as a person.
“Nothing has really changed,” Williams said. “I am still the same ‘Jaheim’ I was before I committed. I’m just excited that I’m going to college. I’m a young Black man finishing high school, getting his diploma, going to college, playing Division I ball, and completing everything in life so far that I’ve wanted to complete. I feel good … about my decision.”
Before Williams graduates in 2021, he wants to continue to grow as a man, get straight As for the rest of the year and have fun in his final year of high school. However, when he arrives on campus next school year, expect him to contribute on the Bluff as he expects to make a big contribution on DU’s football team.
“I work extremely hard,” Williams told The Duke on Oct. 6. “Whether or not I’m starting or on the second-string team or on special teams, I will work my tail off and make the team better every day.
“I will make everyone work. That’s just me. I feel like if I’m making you work hard trying to beat you, you’re making me work hard trying to stop me from beating you,” said Williams, who wants to study either business or athletic management.
Any high school football player knows that when they go on to play at the collegiate level, it can be tougher, and Williams knows that. He has a lot of strengths as a linebacker, but he knows he has weaknesses, too.
He remains committed to fixing his weaknesses. What is obvious is that Williams is a ball player that does not complain, and Duquesne can expect quite the player out of him when he arrives in 2021.
“I’m fierce and I’m determined. See, to me: I don’t care if you are the best offensive lineman in college — I’m gonna get to that running back and stop the play or I’m gonna get the quarterback and get that sack. You might just block me, but every time you do… You are going to feel me, best believe that,” Williams stated.
“I’m going to make sure of it. If you are hitting someone over and over again, they are going to get tired of it. My level of IQ is high, but it could use some work. My whole game could use some work. Never settle for less. I can work on everything to improve my game. I’m not the best yet; the day I am the best, though, I’ll still need work and improvements to be done.”