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J's Will to persevere

Born and raised in Cowboy's country is not the typical opening line to a Commanders player's bio but for Jonathan "J-Will" Williams it's how his opus begins. As you become familiar with his story you'll see the odds he has overcome and the boulders he's moved in his football journey.


Jonathan came up in the vaunted Texas high school football scene where he would rise to become a 4-star running back recruit. He committed to become an Arkansas Razorback.


It was at Arkansas that fans of J-Will began to understand the internal strength of Williams. In his early career as a Razorback, Williams ran wild over the SEC. As a junior he rushed for nearly 1200 yards and 12 TDs.


After his junior searson, the NFL was in front of him but Williams made a faith based decision which he announced during the holiday season. He was coming back to Arkansas.


Williams was coming off a second team all -SEC season in 2014. At the time, the SEC featured guys like Todd Gurley & TJ Yeldon, yet he was still one of the best of them. In August of 2015, Williams would suffer a season ending foot injury as he prepared for the upcoming season. -- His coach Bret Bielema had this to say about Williams' injury "Anyone that knows Jonathan Williams knows this is just another opportunity for him to prove the man of character and substance that he really is." In a moment that would have most of us questioning our faith, Williams strengthened his.


Williams would go on to be selected in the 5th round by the Buffalo Bills who were still featuring prime Shady Mccoy. The Bills season ended with a coaching regime change that ultimately led to roster overhaul. Over the next few seasons Williams would make several stops in search of an NFL home.


Finally in November 2019, Williams got the opportunity to show what he could do, finally he was given the rock. Williams ran for 100yds in consecutive games and put NFL run defenses on notice. After his second 100yd game, Williams told the Indy media "You know, I was just playing with heart — like everybody else on the team."


Despite his incredible performances that led to him averaging 4.8 ypc for the season (better than Kamara and tied with Mcaffery), Williams wasn't provided a long term opportunity.


In 2020 Williams joined the Washington Football team's practice squad and from there he would spend time in the WSH, NYG & DET organizations.


In 2021 J-Will took his limited opportunities with the Washington Football Team and reminded everyone about the kid from TX who started at Arkansas. He accounted for 7 first downs on only 17 attempts, 1 TD and 4.6 YPC.


Jonathan Williams returned to the Commanders in 2022 and once again made the most of every opportunity he received. ESPN beat reporter John Keim said as much after a November game.



Commanders fans have a great appreciation for Williams. His accessibility, realness and support of his teammates are a breath of fresh air.


In the offseason leading into the 2022 season, Williams' agent J.R. Carroll told the Commanders Declassified Podcast that Jonathan never loses his confidence no matter what he is going through. Williams always sees the positive in every negative. For a man as gifted at his craft as he is , to never be given the opportunity that his work ethic has warranted, would drive the normal man mad. Williams however, appears to turn to his faith.


Though his NFL story is not yet complete, it's easy to see the moral to the chapters written thus far: Don't feel sorry for yourself when life feels unfair. Stand on what you believe in and find a way forward.


Williams always seems to find a way to go forward . It's not an accident that a 5th round pick who's drafted round averages 2.4 years in the NFL, has found a way to earn his place for 6 years. As far as NFL tenure goes, Williams has already defied the odds. Now it's about opportunity, and for that, i'm willing to bet that Williams is leaning on his faith.




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