HAMPTON — You’d never know it to look at him now, but once upon a time Marshawn Williams was a couch potato who spent his days playing video games. That, pretty much, was the extent of his physical activity.
Today, he’s a 16-year-old junior for Hampton High who already has accepted a football scholarship to
He owes it all to his cousin Maurice Boone, who dragged him off the sofa to play youth-league football when he was 10.
“I really do,” Williams said. “Football kind of grew on me.”
So it did. Going into Thursday night’s showdown against Phoebus, Williams has rushed for 939 yards and 15 touchdowns. Those numbers are good enough on their own, but consider that during a two-week stretch, he was limited to 11 carries and 50 yards because of a bruised side.
At 5-foot-11, 212 pounds, and with 4.57-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Williams has become a load to handle.
“He’s really, really good,” Woodside coach Danny Dodson said. “He’s not a big, slow guy. He’s a big, fast guy. It’s hard to catch him, and if you do catch him, it’s hard to bring him down.”
Dodson knows all about that. Williams rushed for 192 yards, 89 coming on a pair of touchdowns, in a 42-20 win over the Wolverines on Sept. 21.
Virginia Tech was impressed enough to offer Williams prior to his junior year. That’s no longer unheard of in college football, but it’s still fairly rare. Consider
“It was very overwhelming,” Williams said of Tech’s early offer. “I was more surprised than anything. It was a dream come true, really, because that was the school I wanted to go to.”
Williams played on the junior varsity as a freshman, though he did get nine carries in limited work with the varsity. As a sophomore, he became a starter and rushed for 650 yards on 100 carries. He became an instant hero in the hallways with his 9-yard touchdown in overtime to beat Phoebus.
Though he’s a natural tailback, he’s been asked to play fullback on occasion, depending on the personnel head coach
“It really doesn’t matter where I play, as long as it’s helping my team get to the state (championship),” Williams said. “I’ll play anywhere Coach wants me to.”
Nor does he care that his numbers would be far better if Hampton featured him more. Williams averages 13 rushing attempts a game. Heritage’s Khalid Abdullah, Phoebus’ Tony Pittman and Kecoughtan’s Trenton Cannon all average at least 21 a game.
Smith appreciates Williams’ team-first approach.
“He’s a hard-working, unassuming guy,” Smith said. “He works hard every day in practice and has a great attitude. He cares about his teammates and respects his coaches, and he’s well-liked around the school. Marshawn’s a good kid and fun to coach.”
Part of that hard work is running track in the offseason. It’s made him faster on the field, and that’s made him more valuable.
“My track coach has been working on my form and my speed and my explosion,” he said. “My explosion wasn’t as good as it should have been, and he’s been tuning it up and making it better.
“It’s better to be more versatile than one-dimensional because you can help in so many ways. You can do what Coach needs you to.”
•Hampton (8-1, 7-1 Peninsula District) vs. Phoebus (9-0, 8-0), 7 p.m. at Darling Stadium
TICKETS: $5 adult, $3 children 12-and-under and seniors 65-and-over. Pre-sale tickets are available 4-6 p.m. Wednesday at Hampton and Phoebus' main offices.
TV/VIDEO: LSC 48.
SUNDAY: Series by the numbers.
MONDAY: Ten memorable series games.
TUESDAY: Profile of Phoebus coach Jeremy Blunt, who replaced Stan Sexton weeks ago.
TODAY: Profile of Hampton running back Marshawn Williams, a Virginia Tech commitment.
THURSDAY: What you need to know heading into game day.