He said he needed to adjust to being a high school student at Mount Paran Christian.
Williams didn’t play football his sophomore year either.
He wanted to concentrate on basketball and baseball.
Once Williams became an upperclassman last year, he gave into peer pressure.
When he noticed more and more of his buddies were playing football, Williams decided to give it a go.
Little did he know he would become one of Class A’s most prolific wide receivers. Williams earned all-state recognition and helped lead Mount Paran to a 9-3 record and a trip to the private-school state quarterfinals.
“I went to a couple of games and saw that all my friends were playing it and I was like, hey, I might as well,” said Williams, a member of the Marietta Daily Journal’s 2014 Dynamite Dozen team, “so I started and really liked it. Just playing with all my friends has always been fun to me.”
Since he was built to play wide receiver and cornerback — he’s listed at 5-foot-8, 160 pounds — that’s where the coaches placed him.
As it turned out, the coaches were right.
Not only did Williams possess great hands, he also had speed, with a top 40-yard dash time of 4.56 seconds.
In his first season of football, Williams caught 50 passes for 1,049 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also carried the ball for 526 yards and another two scores. On special teams, he returned 18 punts for a total of 202 yards, and he picked off a pair of passes as a defender.
Looking back, Williams couldn’t say what impressed the coaches most about his on-field performance.
“They didn’t tell me,” he said. “I just made plays.”
While they may have not said so to his face, coaches do speak highly of Williams.
After he caught a 68-yard touchdown pass in Mount Paran’s first playoff victory — a 31-24 win over Our Lady of Mercy — coach Mitch Jordan said after the game that “Emoni is such a great athlete, an incredible player and competitor for us.”
The Eagles’ game against Mount Pisgah Christian also went as one of Williams’ signature moments of the season. Though Mount Paran lost 28-24, Williams described the game and atmosphere as intense. His touchdown on a 72-yard run in the fourth quarter gave the Eagles a 10-point lead, but they couldn’t hold on.
If Williams, a guard for the basketball team and an outfielder in baseball, continues what he accomplished last season, more colleges will following his footsteps. He’s already drawn interest from a group of Football Championship Subdivision teams in Furman, Lehigh, Samford and James Madison.
First, however, Williams’ primary goal is leading Mount Paran to a state championship.
“I want to leave the program better than it was when I found it,” he said.