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BYU football: Freshman Williams won't catch Unga's record, but could surpass 1,000 yards

Published November 9, 2012 12:58 pm

College football • 17-year-old phenom needs to average 121 yards in next four games.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • Running back Jamaal Williams won't break Harvey Unga's record for freshman rushing yardage at BYU, but the product of Summit High in Fontana, Calif., has an outside shot of becoming BYU's first 1,000-yard rusher since Unga did it in 2009.

Despite picking up just 83 yards in his first four games, Williams now has 516 yards, which ranks him 49th on BYU's single-season rushing yardage list.

With 100 or more rushing yards Saturday against Idaho (8:15 p.m., ESPNU), Williams can move into the top 34.

Unga set the BYU and Mountain West Conference rushing record for a freshman in 2007 with 1,227 yards. Williams is on track to greatness, but coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday the 17-year-old phenom isn't there yet.

"I would say from the early signs, yeah, he is," Mendenhall said. "He is still really young, just 17 years old, and a lot of work to still do. But the way he runs the football, the confidence he runs it with, the physical nature he runs it with, is really a nice start for a true freshman."

Williams needs to average 121 yards per per game in the Cougars' final four games (likely bowl game included) to hit 1,000 yards.

Passing Heaps?

Riley Nelson enters Saturday's game 17th on BYU's career passing yardage list, with 3,461 yards. He needs 308 yards to pass Jake Heaps for 16th, and 893 to pass BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman for 15th.

He said Monday that the bye week helped him recover from some nagging knee, shoulder and upper spine issues. Mendenhall said BYU's offense is starting to click.

"Being able to run the football and throw it, with fewer turnovers, is really helpful. I think that's really the core of what has happened, with balance and consistency, and fewer turnovers," he said.

drew@sltrib.com

Twitter: @drewjay —

Idaho at BYU

P Saturday, 8:15 p.m.

TV • ESPNU