Every so often, the football coaches at Folsom High School would stop drills because it was the humane thing to do.
Jonah Williams would destroy his competition, driving some poor soul wearing the same team colors into the turf. Coaches would blow their whistles and remind Williams that these were his teammates and the Bulldogs needed them upright and healthy on game night.
If Williams couldn’t find anybody his own size at Folsom to pick on, he has in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
At 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, Williams will start as a true freshman at right guard for top-ranked Alabama on Saturday against a USC defense led by linebacker Cam Smith from Granite Bay High. That’s heady stuff for anyone, especially a teenager who arrived on the Southeastern Conference campus in January after graduating early from Folsom, eager for new challenges.
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Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has started just two true freshmen at Alabama, where his teams have won four national championships since 2009. He has raved about Williams, telling the media after a recent practice: “Jonah Williams has done a really, really good job. He’s gotten a little bigger. He’s gotten a little stronger. He’s smart; he’s confident.”
Said Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen: “His technique is phenomenal. He knows the playbook. He’s definitely one of those freshmen who progresses very, very fast.”
2 True freshmen who have started at Alabama in the Nick Saban era
Williams was a five-star recruit at Folsom, as polite as he was ferocious on the field. He was considered the area’s most dominating prep lineman in decades. His father is a Georgia alumnus, and his mother graduated from Auburn.
“I loved the SEC growing up and wanted to play for one of those schools,” Williams said last fall. “I’ll work as hard as I can to make it happen.”
More Bulldogs – Williams isn’t the only Folsom alum who will start.
Jake Browning will begin his second season at quarterback Saturday for Washington at home against Rutgers. Dano Graves and Carson McMurtrey started at quarterback and wide receiver, respectively, for Cal Poly on Friday night at Nevada. In the NFL, Jordan Richards is competing for a starting job in the New England Patriots’ secondary .
Another Besana – Adam Besana started just six games at Roseville High due to injuries, but he will start for Sierra College on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Fresno City. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Besana is the son of 1970s Sierra and Cal quarterback Fred Besana, whose late father Fred Besana Sr. won 231 games as the baseball coach at American River in the 1970s.
“Adam stands very big in the pocket, is really talented, and at his size, he’s not going down with arm tackles,” Sierra coach Ben Noonan said.
Adam stands very big in the pocket, is really talented, and at his size, he’s not going down with arm tackles.
Sierra coach Ben Noonan on Sierra quarterback Adam Besana, the son of ex-Cal quarterback Fred Besana
Grim back home – Derrion Grim from McNair High in Stockton enrolled at Nebraska in January after setting the state record with 34 touchdown receptions last fall, including three in a wild 85-46 playoff loss to Sacramento. But Grim said he was disillusioned with the Cornhuskers’ limited passing game, so he is now playing for San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. The Mustangs open Saturday at 6 p.m. at Sacramento City.