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BYU football 2014: Running back Jamaal Williams not about to fake perfection

BYU running back Jamaal Williams.
BYU running back Jamaal Williams.
Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

He's only 19, yet he ran for 1,300 yards last season. Take that into context for a minute. There are few 19-year-olds capable of running for that many yards.

Then take into account that the person in question ran for that amount of yardage at BYU, a Division I school notorious for producing profific passers and receivers--not prodigious running backs.

Yet Jamaal Williams--who at the tender age of 19 is still a junior in college--seemingly had the world cradled in his arm as he juked tacklers and occasionally steamrolled through them, on his way to the end zone.

Williams made that trip seven times last year, high-stepping into the B, Y, and U painted on LaVell Edwards Stadium turf time and again as he collected accolades and the promise--his own included--of an even brighter season in 2014.

That pursuit of excellence will have to wait for at least one game because BYU officials announced recently that Williams violated the school's honor code.

The word out of multiple media outlets is Williams committed the violation when he made the trip back home to Rialto, Calif. this off-season--as he normally does.

Rialto is a sleepy industrial town of about 90,000 people stuck in the middle of a desert just between the towns of San Bernardino and Fontana, east of Los Angeles.

Pockmarked by ornate Victorian architecture and a handful of small skyscrapers that jut up into the sky, you find that the the town's streets soon collide with Native American tepees and motels from another era--offering a brief respite to travelers making the trip west from either Interstate 80, or in Williams' case, I-15.

Major rail lines intersect Rialto into neighborhoods, some good, some not so good. In any town, that's kind of how it goes. You're either on the right side of the tracks--or the wrong one.

For Williams, well, back in Provo he'd already blown a .12 into a Breathalyzer earlier this year--and was cited for underage drinking--so he already knew he was in deep.

What leads someone to commit the offense again, well, that's anyone's guess. Details of Williams' second incident in Rialto are foggy--specifically because some Utah media and BYU officials do a yeoman's job of covering up certain details for job security and so-called privacy reasons--but Williams did tell Salt Lake Tribune reporter Jay Drew that he took a "subsequent misstep."

Williams misstep led to BYU suspending him for one game, the season opener at UConn. Looking at Williams' Twitter page, the first image you see under a profile of the BYU running back--already an anomaly playing at a Mormon-owned private institution--is one of a shirtless young black man, his chest adorned in angelic wings tattooed across most of his upper body.

You see that and you realize the demon Williams is running from, and what he's trying to do at this point to save himself from himself. He's recently taken up roller skating at Classic Skating--thanks in part to a free pass someone gave him.

Then he'll watch Netflix, do his school and football homework and dabble in other less dangerous things to steer clear of the other moments in time waiting to inspire him to tattoo more messages along the parts of his body not already covered in tats.

That Williams knows he may have a drinking problem is a positive--but the battle he's fighting is far from over, sadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, binge drinking--what Williams engaged in--accounts for over 90 percent of all underage drinking. Nobody knows how many times Williams has binge drank--but it probably hasn't happened on just two occasions.

As a BYU fan, you probably realize that just as soon as you look at Williams' Twitter page, or the articles about his suspension--or even the fact that he blew a .12 that fateful night, that just as soon as Williams finds the daylight he craves in the end zone, the gaps in which he found places to run may soon close in around him at BYU.

With such a bright future ahead for Williams, the notion that he might have to leave BYU due to a drinking problem is probably a frightening one for Cougar Nation--and for Williams. That fear of the unknown, well, it's tattooed right now, along Williams broad but still youthful, chest. A warning of sorts was also issued from Williams' Twitter page:

"I was born to make mistakes, not to fake perfection."

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