Linebacker Jabara Williams was the second of the St. Louis Rams seventh-round picks from the 2011 NFL Draft. Coming out of Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, TX, Williams did not receive the draft scrutiny of players from Division I schools. But the St. Louis Rams have a connection with Williams' school, after head coach Steve Spagnuolo worked with another product from there, LB Jeremiah Trotter, during his days coaching with the Eagles.
For more insight on Williams, I reached out to Kevin Gore, the Lumberjacks' beat reporter from the Daily Sentinel in Nacogdoches. I don't want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that Williams fits the bill for the kinds of players that round out the depth chart on Steve Spagnuolo's team: high character and potential. More on Williams after the jump.
As for some background on Williams:
Jabara Williams came from a small east texas school, Garrison, a Class 2A school about 20 miles, northeast of Nacogdoches texas. he wasn't heavily recruited.
Jabara was a standout player, just about from the first day he was on campus until his last. He was a dependable, consistent player as a true freshmen on a team that went 0-11. Coach Harper said he was a leader - even a two-way starter - on a team that was lowlighted by a lot of seniors who quit during the season.
That's right, in case you didn't know it, Williams played running back some during his time at SAF too.
He was a team leader, a stand-up guy because he worked hard in practice and became a team leader, really before his time to be one.
While covering Jabara and SFA, he blew me away with his quotes. He's not the type of guy to just say something that sounds good to get through an interview. He listens to the question and then answers it. He has a great attitude. The coaching staff and SFA rave about his work ethic, how he turned himself into being a guy who was drafted through hard work and diligence. When other guys were taking breaks, this guy was working out, figuring out a way to get ahead of them and get better.
As for his time at running back...don't expect him to be the Rams answer to the backup RB question:
He was a lot better linebacker than running back. He was better at finding the ball than hitting the hole. His playing running back came in a season when the team suffered a great amount of injuries at RB and he was the best other option. He had some big games running the ball, which spoke of his desire and willingness to do what was asked of him. Every yard he gained came while playing linebacker, too, and on special teams.
Asked about his ceiling as a player, Gore relayed this info to TST:
SFA head coach J.C. Harper said "once he gets to the NFL, he'll be there a long time. He's tough mentally and physically. He's obviously a winner. He has things you can't coach. He's just different."
Williams said "I' ve worked hard, even though I was at a small school (Garrison) and a I-AA college (SFA). It helped me stay humble and work hard. But, I've got a lot more to accomplish."
I can see Jabara Williams being a pro player, probably a starter in a year or two. He needs to add some weight, but the NFL game is about getting to the football. He can do that.
Thanks again to Kevin Gore at the Daily Sentinel for helping us out.
Like I said above, Williams' character really stands out, and that's an attribute that can be a real asset for a player on the fringe of the roster. That gives him a leg up on learning the system and doing what the coaches ask...it's sort of like the coke they use in making steel, which is a lame analogy, I know. In reading more about Williams elsewhere, what he does do well is get to the ball, a must for weakside linebackers.
Like Jonathan Nelson from Oklahoma, here's another guy that hasn't yet filled out his frame. As he adds weight and bulk it will help him transition. Prospects in the rough.
In the three years since Billy Devaney has been running the Rams drafts, the team has managed to find some useful players in the seventh round, most notably George Selvie. All three picks from the draft's final frame last year are still on the roster, including Selvie.
Here's a profile of Williams from the SAF athletics site.