“Here’s a kid that loves everything about Carolina, and that’s why he wanted to come to Carolina,” head coach Larry Fedora said. “He just shows you that he’s pretty mature. He’s prepared himself really well. He’s been preparing himself like that since game one, to be out there, to be the guy. It just hasn’t happened until tonight.”
On Saturday night, he was certainly "the guy." This was what Fedora must have envisioned when he saw Williams bulldoze his way to 207 yards a year ago. Williams was a fairly unheralded recruit, and was off the radar for most Division 1 schools. Fedora offered Williams a scholarship after that game. The 4.0 student took an official visit the next day, and before he returned home from the title game, he was committed to the Tar Heels. Just over a month after his two-touchdown performance, he was enrolled and taking classes in Chapel Hill.
Last week, Williams scored his first collegiate touchdown in a loss to Duke. This week he was the star player in a victory for the Tar Heels.
Williams got his first end zone trip of the day on a 1-yard rush, his first carry of the game, to put the Tar Heels on top for the first time. When UNC allowed Western Carolina to climb back within two scores, Williams put the game away with a pair of 2-yard rushes for touchdowns in the third quarter.
In a season gone wrong for UNC, Williams is a bright spot who has been waiting in the wings behind regular backs Antonio Williams, Michael Carter and Jordon Brown. Injuries to Antonio Williams and Carter opened up extra reps on Saturday.
Starting quarterback Nathan Elliott expected nothing less from Williams in his expanded opportunity.
“(I’m) so excited for Javonte,” Elliot said. “He works so hard, he's such a good dude. If there is anyone I wanted to have a day like that it was him. He's earned it, he deserves it and he did a great job today. I couldn't be more proud of him.”
Williams is the latest addition to one of the deepest position groups on the team. The running back spot looks to be one of the team’s biggest returning strengths in what Williams promises will be a bounce-back season next year.
With the status of Antonio Williams and Carter uncertain for next week, Williams may not have to wait until next year to keep proving himself. The Tar Heels host N.C. State on Saturday at 12:20 p.m. in the season finale.
After back-to-back scoring performances, Williams looks to be polished and ready to be a regular contributor as just a true first-year. He doesn’t have it all figured out, however. If he’s going to keep finding his way to the end zone, he needs to figure out what he’s going to do when he gets there.
“I just need to come up with a celebration,” Williams said. “I ain’t thought of that yet.”
@DTHSports | firstname.lastname@example.org