Even while courageously discussing the latest missteps that will cost him the opportunity to play in BYU’s season opener on Aug. 29 at UConn, junior running back Jamaal Williams somehow managed to make us all laugh tonight.
Three times, maybe more.
Keep reading here — or check out my colleague Brennan Smith’s video on the Tribune’s web site — for more of what the self-deprecating Williams had to say.
For instance, somebody asked Williams whether that was his playlist heard on the speakers at practice, music that was around before he was even born.
"If it was my play list, it would have been explicit," he said. "I can’t play my music. Maybe if I go on Pandora and get the clean version. But yeah, my music is nowhere near going to be playing here, at all."
Moments later, Williams told us all what he is going to be doing in his next two years at BYU to stay out of trouble: roller skating.
"It ain’t no secret, though [what he did]. It is still breaking the honor code, but it is something you have to endure for these next two years. It is not something I like doing, it was just in the heat of the moment, a thing like that. It is not something I want to keep doing, or nothing like that. I got other things to do. I have already started doing new hobbies and everything."
Like what, Jamaal?
"If you ever see me on the weekends, you will find me at Classic Skating. You may laugh, but I am pretty good, now, and I will be in there. That’s what I will be doing: Classic Skating. If you want to come, you can come rolling in if you need to, but I will be at Classic Skating. You will see me doing nothing but Classic Skating, NetFlix, hanging out with friends and teammates and going to other sports games, but that’s pretty much it.
I am going to do these two years right. The first two years were a whole bunch of rebel stages and not knowing the right way of coming in here and enjoying BYU life. But these next two years are going to be pretty exciting."
Williams then talked about going roller skating with his mother and how she fell on her backside a time or two.
"She did it. She fell straight on her butt. I tried to help her up, because she’s my momma, you know? I said, it is OK mom, you will get it next time."
Here are a few more comments from Williams on the suspension and moving forward:
On how hard it is to know he has to miss the first game:
"It is hard, you know? I ain’t excited about it, but I will do it though. I will do what I have to do to get back on the field. If it is going with the twos, it is just helping them better, too. I can help them out and teach them some things that they don’t know sometimes. It is helpful for the team, pretty much. I am doing whatever I can for the team right now."
On whether he believes a one-game suspension is a fair punishment:
"Pretty much. I don’t like it. I want to play. I want to show them that I will do anything to get back on the field. But right now, I am missing the game."
On how frustrating it is for a non-LDS athlete at BYU to have to face a one-game suspension:
"It is hard. But it is all my doing. I chose to come here, and they told me the rules before I even stepped foot on here. They told me that I am going to have to follow the rules just like everybody else. I just didn’t. Just wasn’t listening. Now it is a growing experience. People make dumb mistakes. I just turned 19. I am more mature. I learned from it, and it just ain’t going to happen again."
On chasing the all-time rushing yardage record at BYU and how it became more difficult:
"Record, schmecord. It don’t mean nothing right now. I just want to play. The record, I will get it next year. It will be exciting if I still get it this year. I still want to get it this year, but it is just for the team right now. I am not worried about no record."
On whether the punishment stemmed from the underage drinking charges in February:
"Somewhat of both. Yeah, a combination of them both. But I know that they care for me and everything, just to still have me here and just give me a one-game suspension, but it is just something that comes with it. It is life. Mistakes happen. You go through a couple of bumps. You gotta overcome them. You can’t let them get you down. You just keep working hard, actually."
On whether he’s worried about a third strike and getting kicked off team:
"There ain’t no third problem going to happen. Jamaal going to do what he needs to do to get done, but have fun still here and enjoy these last two years and just do it with a bang."
On getting called in to coach Mendenhall’s office and what it was like:
"It is a new era now and things that we are doing, it is going to be less incidents like this happening to non-LDS players, or just players in general. We will start cutting down on anything that is going to start breaking the honor code or anything. We are helping the younger kids have fun, but still be in the boundaries of the honor code and everything. It is a new leaf around here, people helping each other out, teammates helping each other out, especially the younger ones. I made a mistake one time, but I will overcome it and I am trying to be a positive role model now, show them the right way to live at BYU and to have fun and have a great time playing BYU football."
As mentioned in the story on the Tribune’s website, Mendenhall was asked about "rumors" that other starters would also be suspended. He said he wouldn’t confirm anything and prefers to handle everything internally. Last February, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe announced that the school would no longer confirm honor code violations when asked by the media. "So don’t even ask," he said.
I am no BYU historian, but I gotta think that Williams’ announcement tonight was the first time in school history that a player has announced his own suspension.
I asked Mendenhall tonight if the plan is to leave it up to the players to decide if they want to tell the media that they are going to be suspended.
"Certainly, my intention wasn’t to announce anything," Mendenhall said. "What Jamaal did [in announcing it], that kind of put me on reaction mode. I would much prefer these matters, when possible — I know it is not always possible — when possible just to be handled internally, and then we keep it that way. Sometimes that happens at BYU, sometimes it doesn’t.
My hope is that it can remain that way. But I will deal with it if it doesn’t."
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