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USC Football

USC DB Jayden Williams epitomizes fighting on!

July 31, 2019

For some the road to earning big-time college scholarships is a fairly simple process and the result of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. But the road for some, like USC true-freshman DB and former Centennial Husky Jayden Williams, the road involved several bumps in the road.

We first became familiar with Williams when we visited Centennial for the 2018 Recruiting Showcase last May. The Huskies are one of the premier high school football programs in the nation and loaded with D-I talent each year.

There are several coaches, players and family members at Centennial we’ve gotten to know the past few years. They all told us Williams was the redal deal, but had significant academic hurdles to overcome. In fact, a friend who coaches at Riverside City College told me on the sidelines of the Centennial vs Santiago game in October, it was a longshot for Williams to academcially qualify at a four-year school.

With less than a minute left in what was a blowout victory that night at Santiago, I spoke to Williams for the first time.

“You’re way too (expletive) good to play at a junior college,” I said. 

Williams knew how good he was, just like everyone who knew him did. This is a kid who would’ve had 25 plus offers had his grades been in order earlier. Although he’d made a lot of progress with his grades at that point, he was still in limbo academically last October.

"I had all of my core classes, but I didn't have a few classes I needed to graduate," said Williams. "That was the problem.”

However, there was a simple but arduous solution to his problem

“On Mondays and Wednesdays, I would stay after school to take the two courses, and that's what really paid off and got me here,” he said. "There was also one math class I needed for USC and that's the math class they let me take at Norco College.”

Although a few kids have transferred to Centennial over years, because of the resources at their disposal to get them well academcially, Williams ended up a Husky for other reasons.

"I just wanted to be seen," Williams said. "At JW (North) everything was disorganized, coaches were coming and going and me and my family decided it was best to go to Centennial,” said Williams. “That's a great program, great coaches and you get noticed there. When I got there, they told me right away they would shoot my name to coaches, but I had to work for it. I did everything they wanted me to do and it paid off."

Here’s the part of the story that tugs at your emotions, especially if you know Williams and what a great kid he is.

"My dad has never really been in my life, so it was just my me and my mom," said Williams. "My mom's a truck driver, so she's gone all the time. My freshman thru junior year, it was just me. It was literally just me at the house."

"My dad has never really been in my life, so it was just my me and my mom," said Williams. "My mom's a truck driver, so she's gone all the time. My freshman thru junior year, it was just me. It was literally just me at the house."
- Jayden Williams

Most kids, even with both parents guiding us, can lose their way. They usually it at some point, when they grasp how negatively the way they’re behaving affects them and their future. Williams figured it out his junior year.

"I was a knucklehead as a freshman," he said. "But when I started believing I I had enough talent to make it to the next level, I started getting better grades. By the time I got to my senior year, I got all A's and B's. It just turned around."

I’ve met the people affiliated with the Centennial Football Program and the kids who play football there are blessed. Whether it’s the coaches, players or their families, there are people surrounding those kids who care....and  are a lot.

"I would say everyone at Corona Centennial was a big part of how I got here," said Williams. "But Coach (Matt) Logan, the defensive coordinator, the DBs coach, the vice principal....they all helped. They all stayed in my ear and telling me I could do it, because sometimes I thought I was for sure headed the JuCo route. But they kept on me, Coach (Johnny) Nansen kept pushing me and telling I could do this. And finally it happened."

Sometimes scholarship offers come in when kids are exrtremely young and some don’t get offered until after National Letter of Intent Day. While he didn’t have to wait until the last minute, Williams didn’t get his first offer until the late hour of the recruiting process.

"When I got to Centennial, Washington hit me up and said they were watching me," said Williams. "But my senior year nobody was hitting me up, because I didn't have the grades, yet. I started getting nervous and wondering what was going on. But the game before we played Mater Dei (11/16), they hit me up again and told me they wanted to offer me a scholarship....and my heart dropped.

"The next week, I think I was at school walking in the hall, and my phone lit up with a number from Oregon. It was the head coach (Mario Cristobal). He asked if it was me, asked how I was doing and if I thought I could make it academically. I said, 'Yessir,' and they offered me a full scholarship.”

The roads kids take to earning the opportunity to play at schools like USC and others across the country are vastly different. DB Jayden Williams took a road with several twists, turns, ups, down and bumps on his way to Troy. He battled the odds and won. Not because he's lucky, because he was hungry

A few months would pass and Williams still only had scholarship offers from Washington and Oregon. He began to plan his official visits in January and took his first visit to Washington January 25-27. He planned to visit Oregon the following week, but he had a future date with destiny.

"I took my official visit to Washington and I'm not going to lie, I loved it," he said. "Then after my visit was over and I was in the airport ready to head home, Coach Nansen called me and said I needed to take an official visit to USC before I made a decision. I wasn't sure If I should take the amazing opportunity at Washington or look at all my options. So, I took my official to USC. When I got there it just felt so comfortable, it felt like home, I loved the whole coaching staff, Coach (Greg) Burns and I just knew it was the place for me."

USC Scoop has it on good authority that Williams hasn’t regretted his decison for a moment.

Fall Camp begins Friday August 2 at 4pm.

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USC DB Jayden Williams epitomizes fighting on!

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