The stages don’t get any bigger and the lights don’t get any brighter in high school football than they do in Texas. Indiana freshman wide receiver Jordyn Williams has succeeded in that environment and with a famous coach drawing even more eyes to his program.
After three seasons at Westover High School in Albany, Ga., he transferred to Trinity Christian High School in Cedar Hill, Texas so he could play in that environment. His offensive coordinator there was Deion Sanders, who was there because his son Shedeur Sanders was the quarterback before both went to Jackson State. Their first game in the 2020 season against Knoxvillle (Tenn.) Catholic was on ESPN, and Williams caught 10 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown in that game. He was the young Sanders’ favorite deep target all season, catching 50 passes for 1,466 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior.
“One thing about working with Coach Prime, he’s just an outstanding coach in all aspects, on the field and off the field,” Williams said, evoking the elder Sanders’ nickname Prime Time. “I’m not going to say he’s just like any other coach because he’s not, but when it comes down to business, he’s going to handle business first. That’s what he taught and instilled in all of us and carried it on. I got here and I’m still doing it. I want to show people here I have that same mentality.”
He brought the same mentality when he enrolled early and came to Indiana for spring practice, but he’s learned quickly the difference in what it takes to be successful at the high school level and the college level and how much further he has to go.
The 6-foot-1, 184-pounder and four-star recruit does not have a clear path to playing time as a true freshman. The Hoosiers return two starters at the outside spots in All-Big Ten first teamer Ty Fryfogle and Miles Marshall. They lost starter Whop Philyor at the slot, but added Florida State transfer D.J. Matthews who fits perfect there, and they brought in Texas A&M transfer Cameron Buckley, who can play inside and outside.
But Williams does get to watch them work, knowing he’ll have a much clearer path to playing time when they move on, and he got a sense from them in the spring what it takes to become what they have.
“The competition is always heavy at a big program,” Williams said. “It’s more so who is going to help out the other. The receivers that I’ve been working with, especially Ty Fry and Buck (Buckley), and a lot of the new receivers, they all took me under their wings to show me the ropes and show me the ways of how to be one of those Big Ten receivers. How to make big plays and determine what route you want to go down. They all gave me a helping hand and I just really appreciate them for that.”
He also appreciated the help he got from wide receivers coach Grant Heard, a former star receiver himself at Ole Miss. Like most wide receivers who make the transition, Williams is used to being able to dominate by letting his speed and athleticism shine. Heard has made it clear, however, that detail matters much more at the college level.
“Working with coach Heard is a whole other ballgame,” Williams said. “He is a great coach, and he told me before I even got here that he was going to be hard on me.”
What being hard on him meant was that Heard wasn’t going to accept missteps and that he would demand exactitude. Routes had to be precise. Footwork had to be sharp. Every drill had to be executed to completion.
“What he taught me that’s different is the little things,” Williams said. “Not so much catching the ball, it’s what you do after you catch it. Getting the right amount of yards. Those little things that take your game from here (holds one hand up to indicate a level) to here (uses other hand to indicate a higher level.) He’s one of those sticklers about the little things.”
That was an adjustment for a receiver used to simply torching defensive backs, but Williams can already sense it will pay off and that it was good to have the spring as a head start.
“I didn’t expect it to be how it was, but I’m glad that he threw me in the fire early,” Williams said. “Now I know what to expect going forward in the fall.”
For Williams’ senior season highlights, GO HERE
Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
Seven ways to support completely free IU coverage at no additional cost to you.