Wyoming Cowboys rookie Jaden Williams triumphs after tragedy this year | national

LARAMIE – Jaden Williams seeks a Hollywood ending on the High Plains.

The 6-foot-4, 248-pound defensive tackle prospect from Inglewood, Calif., Who hasn’t even registered a star rating with recruiting services, verbally pledged to Wyoming this week.

Williams overcame tragedy during an inspired senior season at Campbell Hall in North Hollywood, which led to a scholarship offer from head coach Craig Bohl in October.

After feeling at home during a visit to the UW campus last weekend, Williams decided to announce that he was taking his talents from Los Angeles to Laramie on Monday night.

“I just feel like it’s a good choice for me to get out of city life, move to Wyoming and focus on my job and my future,” Williams told The Star. -Tribune. “That’s really what I want to do, honestly. It’s really exciting to get involved there. I really like school.

Some other Mountain West programs, including Nevada and UNLV, have shown interest in Williams but haven’t made room for the big guy in their 2022 classes.

UW running back coach and recruiting coordinator Gordie Haug was able to help secure the deal after longtime defensive line coach Pete Kaligis left for Washington State in La last week.

Luke Roaten, a two-star defensive tackle prospect from Tomball, Texas, pulled out of the Cowboys on Tuesday. Williams’ addition keeps UW at 11 known verbal engagements for this cycle.

“It kind of opened my eyes,” Williams said of the hiring process. “It was mind blowing to say the least to have coaches thinking I’m good enough to play for their college and telling me all that stuff. It was really exciting.

“The engagement part was crazy. I was really excited when I got out and saw Wyoming. The players showed me the real thing, they just told me how it was going to be every day, how it was going to be during the season as a player with the coaches.

Williams is motivated to make the most of this opportunity as a promise to his mother, Cleo, who died in March of an aneurysm.

Campbell Hall coach Dennis Keyes marveled at the dramatic improvement in Williams’ academic and football performance despite the crushing personal loss he faced.

“He’s kind of struggled to lose his mom this year,” Keyes said. “From that point on, Jaden kind of turned into a new man almost. His level of maturity has increased exponentially.

“His drive and dedication to being the best he can be, keeping the promises he made to his mother, was impressive to watch and see firsthand.”

Playing football this fall was a welcome distraction for Williams. He made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks on the defensive line, helped protect his quarterback as a left tackle and even returned a kickoff for a touchdown in Campbell Hall’s 10-0 regular season. .

“Football has helped him tremendously,” Keyes said. “I think for most kids it’s an escape. Sport is an escape from their realities and all the negativity that’s going on in their world. When they’re inside the lines, they can step into a whole new world.

“For Jaden, that’s exactly what it was, a way for him to get away from the pain and the pain of losing his mother and focus on something else.”

Now Williams will focus on continuing his rise with the Cowboys.

Bohl’s program has a tradition of developing lightly recruited prospects from MWC or even NFL players. The stories of Josh Allen and Logan Wilson are the two best-known examples.

“He hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he’s capable of,” Keyes said of Williams. “That’s what’s exciting about him being in a program with Coach Bohl. This is what they do. They develop these guys. They bring them in, they work with them and they build them.

“There is patience and care in the process. That’s why I’m so glad Jaden is here in Wyoming.

The only thing Keyes, a former UCLA star who played in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals, doesn’t like Williams going to UW is what those brown and gold colors are about him. remind.

The topic of the Bruins’ loss to the Cowboys in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl, a game Keyes played like a nickel comeback during his freshman season in a red shirt, came up when Bohl stopped by his desk by Campbell Hall.

“I told him I had a love-hate relationship,” Keyes said with a laugh. “I love them for giving Jaden a chance, but I’m still mad at them because they beat us.”

Williams understands what he will be committing to when the letter of intent goes to the UW compliance office. The early signing period begins next Wednesday.

It will take a lot of work over the years to script the Hollywood ending.

“I appreciate how honest (Bohl) is and how direct he is at times,” said Williams. “He’ll give you the real one, let you know what you’re getting into.” He doesn’t gamble and he wants you to be a part of what they’re building and their program. I like this.”

Follow UW beat writer Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn

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