Per 247Sports’ composite rankings, the 2023 OL commit is a four-star recruit and the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania for his class.
What Penn State football fans might not realize, however, is that Williams is arguably one of the best all-around high school athletes in America.
Ty Smith, Wyomissing’s throwing coach and junior high football coach, described the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Williams as a “unicorn” and his accomplishments as “crazy.”
Williams may be just as good throwing in track as he is blocking in football.
He’s “state-record” good.
This past weekend, Williams broke the PIAA shot put record—set in 2007 by future Penn State graduate and Olympic medalist Joe Kovacs—with a throw of 66 feet, 7.75 inches.
Well @williams_jven decided to go out with a bang. New @PIAASports record 66’7 3/4!! top 10 in the country and #1 jr. @wyotf22 @WyoFootball @Wyospartans @PennTrackXC @CentralPARunner @PennStateFball @CoachTrautFB @GarageStrength @nationalthrows @gobigrecruiting pic.twitter.com/5VbJywWBRq
— Steven O'Neil (@CoachSteveONeil) May 28, 2022
It capped off a banner event for Williams, who won the state championship in the discus throw the day before. Williams’ success helped Wyomissing win the Class 2A team title.
“It was amazing,” Williams said.
But the weekend was bittersweet for Williams.
The 16-year-old junior plans on graduating from Wyomissing early and heading to Penn State in the winter, which would make him ineligible for next year’s track season.
Although his high school career is likely over, Williams may continue to throw at a higher level.
TWO SPORTS AT PENN STATE?
Penn State fans might be interested to know that Williams has talked with both football coach James Franklin and Lucais MacKay, an assistant track coach who oversees the throwers, about throwing at Penn State.
Williams said he probably won’t make his decision until after arriving on campus.
It’s certainly a fun idea to ponder.
“My priority is football,” Williams said. “Once I’m established on the field, and have myself really going on the field, then I’ll be able to sit back and throw and be able to score points with the Track & Field team also.”
Assuming this is the end of his Wyomissing track career, it’s nearly impossible to think of a more exciting way to go out.
‘J’VEN, IT’S YOUR WORLD, BUDDY”
It started Friday.
With stormy weather pushing back the start and throwing everybody off, Williams threw the discus 167 feet.
It was good enough to win gold. But it was more than 22 feet shorter than his best throw of the year.
The next day, Smith, who has been at Wyomissing for 26 years, told Williams;
“You’re gonna win.”
But Smith wanted more than just a first-place medal in the shot put. He was more focused on the “show” that Williams would put on and let Williams know what his target should be.
“You’re gonna walk away with the record,” Smith told his thrower.
Smith said that in all his years coaching, he’d never had that type of conversation with an athlete before a meet.
Ahead of Williams’ fifth throw, his next-to-last of the finals, Williams asked Smith if he should pump himself and his supporters up by doing “the clap.”
“J’ven,” Smith told him. “It’s your world, buddy. We’re just living in it.”
Williams began to clap his hands.
All it took were two claps from Williams to get the whole team going. Soon, the applause started.
Williams took the shotput by his ear, spun, threw and yelled.
As soon as the shot landed, Williams’ rooters exploded.
They didn’t know exactly how far the throw went, but they knew it was, in Smith’s words, “a bomb.”
“Once I broke the record,” Williams said, “the whole place erupted. It was awesome.”
“That shot put performance was one of the best things I’ve ever seen,” Smith said.
MORE NOISE AHEAD
Williams plans on hearing plenty more eruptions over at least the next half-decade.
He’s less than three months from the start of football season, where he’ll play his first game since committing to Penn State in February and begin the quest for a state title, which Wyomissing fell one game short of last season.
If all goes according to plan, Williams will have 100,000+ people cheering for him in Beaver Stadium soon enough.
Smith hopes Williams can still make people cheer in track but knows it might be over.
“I’m under the thought that that might be the last throw we ever see from him,” he said. “I don’t want it to be, but I’m just being honest.”
Smith has known for a while that Williams planned to be done with Wyomissing track after this spring. At first, that was hard to take.
“But then I sat back, and I said to myself, ‘enjoy it,” Smith said. “And I have.
Although Smith said Williams could do stuff that “we may never see” if he throws as a senior, Smith understands how good Williams is at football.
The goal for Williams is to play in the NFL and become a millionaire, and if that becomes his sole athletic focus, Smith is content.
“If that’s the last time we ever see him throw,” Smith said. “I’m ok with that.”
WILLIAMS SURPRISES HIMSELF
Williams said he went into every meet this season with the mindset that he didn’t have much time left with Wyomissing track and wanted to make the most of every throw.
Not long ago, it was track, not football, that was No. 1 for Williams.
His older brother, Rushard, was also a state champ, so the sport means a lot to the Williams family.
Another thing was; Williams didn’t see himself as good enough to play football at Penn State or any other DI school.
“I love football with a passion,” Williams said, “but track was my priority (last spring). I didn’t think I could go play football at Penn State.”
But Williams worked at it and became a monster. Now, he’s going to Penn State, and he said his future coaching staff is well-aware of what he did this past weekend.
“Right after I broke the state record, all the coaches went crazy,” he said. “They were ecstatic for me.”
J’VEN WILLIAMS = LOCAL LEGEND
Wyomissing is a neighboring borough of Reading, Pennsylvania.
It’s roughly two-and-a-half hours away from State College.
When Smith, a 1991 graduate of Wyomissing, was in high school, Wyomissing’s football uniforms were a copy of Penn State’s.
Blue and White. No names. Black Shoes.
“The whole nine yards,” Smith said.
That’s what Penn State football means in Wyomissing and the Reading area.
“Everyone loves Penn State,” Williams said.
So when Williams, already established as perhaps the Pennsylvania’s top overall prospect, committed, “it was like Christmas around here,” Smith said.
Williams acknowledges that his commitment to Penn State has made him a celebrity in his hometown.
At states, with a full crowd allowed for the first time in three years, there was already a different buzz.
Williams’ presence, however, created even more of a buzz, and Smith had his share of Penn State fans talking to him about their future offensive lineman.
Williams knew more people were watching him this spring than last and was thrilled to succeed for a broader audience.
“I have to be pretty good to live up to that name,” Williams said. “I think it was really nice. I feel like I lived up to the expectations.”
WILLIAMS HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN
Williams’ experience with great expectations is just beginning, and even though his legacy at Wyomissing is already secure, Smith sees what Williams has done as just “the tip of the iceberg.”
“He’s already a legend here,” Smith said. “I hope he becomes one in State College and beyond.”