Alabama right tackle Jonah Williams and Washington quarterback Jake Browning text each other often during the season.
But probably not as much this week.
“I think for the sake of our friendship, we’re really not talking a lot of football,” said Williams, a true freshman starter who played with Browning at California’s Folsom High School. “But we’re good friends for a long time, so there’s not any animosity or anything like that. But it’s definitely a competitive spirit. He wants to win, I want to win.”
On Thursday at Peach Bowl media day, Williams -- an Atlanta native who moved to California after his freshman year of high school and came to Folsom as a transfer -- discussed his friendship with Browning, his similar approach to his recruitment and the prospect of Browning facing Alabama’s top-ranked defense.
(On his relationship with Browning) “...The offensive line-quarterback relationship is always close. He was kind of a mentor for me, especially in the recruiting process. I really admired how he didn’t do all the flashy stuff. He didn’t do all that because he didn’t need to. He went out there and threw a million touchdowns his senior year. … I think I kind of took that lead. I’m not the flashy type anyway, so I wouldn’t have been like that, but I think he kind of kept me humble and I think he had a good template of how to be recruited and how to be successful.
(On his first impression of Browning) “It’s funny, because I played for another local high school for a season and we weren’t at that level, so I remember being on the bus rides home from games and stuff and (people) being like, oh, Folsom won 63-0 again and Jake Browning threw whatever, seven touchdowns or something like that. So I heard his name, and you kind of assume a superstar quarterback is going to have an ego and stuff like that, so we had our first full day of practice my first day at Folsom and he came off the field and introduced himself to me because I was the new kid or whatever, and I kind of assumed he would be too good for that. He was wearing an old t-shirt and stuff doing his thing. The first thing that struck me was he didn’t have this big superstar ego or anything like that. He came across as really humble, so I think, ‘that’s going to be a good kid.’”
(On skipping all of the high-profile recruiting camps like Browning did) “That’s one of the things that coaches preach over at Folsom. Their thing is that they’ve played 15 or 16 games the last I don’t even know how many years, so they’re going to have a lot of film. And if you play well on film against good competition, that’s all the college coach is going to see. The other stuff is nice for pats on the back and highlighter-colored jackets and stuff like that, but if you want to play and be successful at the college level, it’s really not that important to go and get your shoulders rubbed.”
(Did he try to get you to go to UW at all?) “Not really, not a whole lot. He would speak highly of Washington, speak highly of his coaches and stuff like that, but he didn’t really try to pressure me. He kind of knew where I wanted to be.”
(What was the best advice he gave you?) “He’s not one to have a nice little quote or anything like that, so I can’t wrap it up for you, but I do think kind of the humble approach to it. It’s paid off for both of us. We didn’t do a single one of those camps and we’re both excelling on a big stage. So I think that kind of leading by example.”
(How often do you talk to him?) “I’ll talk to him after every game. I’ll hear how he does and text him congrats or something like that. I’m always supporting them, wanting them to do well just for him. I never really expected it to end up like this.”
(Talking this week?) “I think for the sake of our friendship, we’re really not talking a lot of football. But we’re good friends for a long time, so there’s not any animosity or anything like that. But it’s definitely a competitive spirit. He wants to win, I want to win. So there’s no hard feelings personally, but we’re both competitors.”
(Do you think Browning knows what he’s in for against your defense?) “I don’t, honestly. There’s really nothing like it. I think in this bowl prep, we’ve done more good on good, going against our own defense. It’s just kind of been a reminder. It just feels like camp again, where it’s just like, these guys are good. Because you get to see it every week, but you kind of forget what it’s going to be like to go against them full speed. He’s a pretty level-headed guy, but there’s a storm coming.”