Midway through Friday’s BYU football game at UConn, Cougar star running back Jamaal Williams posted a photo from his @jswaggdaddy Twitter account showing him holding a sleeping baby boy.
His tweet read: “Happy watching my team do work and I'm being a good big brother at the same time lol.”
Williams was one of multiple BYU players who missed the contest against the Huskies due to violations of team rules. All he could do as the Cougars took the field in the season-opener was watch and root for his teammates.
“It’s the past,” he said Monday evening. “It was alright but a little weird. Now it’s a new week, I finally get to play and I’m ready to go help my team win.”
He said having his “little brother” there made the game more enjoyable.
“During the game, I’ll yell, he’ll yell,” Williams said. “Then he went to sleep on me, so I lost my buddy during the game. It’s fun having family out here to support you even when you’re not playing, letting you know they are here for you no matter what you do.”
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said the players who missed the game will most likely be ready to go at Texas on Saturday (5:30 p.m. MDT, Fox Sports 1) -- but pointed out there are no guarantees.
“It is day-by-day and it will be the entire season in terms of behavior and what they need to do to live up to their contracts with me,” Mendenhall said. “Assuming everything happens well, we add two more corners to a strong secondary performance and we add Marques Johnson back at nose tackle, we add Jamaal Williams back at running back and we add Devon Blackmon at receiver. As of today, that can all happen, which would be great.”
He went on to say he was pleased with how the suspended athletes have handled themselves.
“They were unselfish, they were accountable, they knew what they did and they’ve been working really hard,” Mendenhall said.
The players also feel a similar pride at seeing their peers own up to their mistakes and move forward.
“It was hard for them last week not being there as we heard from all of them,” BYU junior defensive end and captain Remington Peck said. “They’ve been working hard to get back to make sure they can step in and have a role. I gained respect for all those guys for standing up and admitting what they did. I think that’s the hardest part. Then it was paying their dues and now they can get back out and help us because we need those guys.”
Cougar senior wide receiver Jordan Leslie lauded the efforts of Blackmon in making himself ready to go.
“They put him on scout team for UConn and he was giving them a great look,” Leslie said. “I talked to him after every practice and said, ‘man, I’m proud of you’ because he went out there and improved his craft. A lot of people might go over there and knowing they weren’t playing this week just slack. He went out there and busted his butt and gave them a great look, which prepared them for UConn.”
Leslie said Blackmon’s approach says a lot about the junior’s character.
“It shows he’s a grown man,” Leslie said. “It shows he has respect for this team. He’s not bigger than this team and he understands that. When you get in trouble, there is a consequence. He paid the consequence and did everything he needed to do. That gets a lot of respect from me, the team leaders, the captains, everyone.”
The Cougar defense missed having a trio of contributors last week -- including Johnson on the defensive line -- and Peck said it made a difference.
“We played way too many plays,” Peck said. “I think the coaches recognized that. It will be nice having Marques [Johnson] and Kesni [Tausinga] back this week. We’ll get Logan [Taele] a few more reps and get the rotation going a little more.”
The verdict is that all the guys are now fired up to get out and play.
“I walked in and [Blackmon] was watching film by himself,” Leslie said. “We was watching last year’s film. I said that I think they have a new defensive coordinator, but he was watching the players and seeing their techniques. That’s great to see.”