University of Miami

How football bonded Christian Williams with his father and prepared him for Miami

The life of a fullback isn’t always glamorous, even 15 years ago before the position was essentially phased out of the sport. Ramon Williams’ contributions with the Arkansas State Red Wolves in 2003 and 2004 were usually subtle, which makes the big plays standout — especially when they’re punctuated like this one.

As Williams remembers one of his fondest moments, he caught a screen pass in an early season game against the Ole Miss Rebels and rumbled about 60 yards down the field, only to be dropped just shy of the end zone. Williams couldn’t help but be thrilled when he headed over to his sideline, though. Right in one of the first rows in Mississippi was Christian Williams, the fullback’s 2-year-old son, jumping up and down in frenzied support of his father.

“He was just going crazy on the sideline, man,” Williams recalled. “I could see him because they was yelling for me or whatever. That was one of the highlights for me is I kind of got a close-up on him and he was just ecstatic. He’s in the stands with a football in his hands.”

Even longer than Christian Williams can remember, his relationship with his father has been inextricably tied to his relationship with football. In his youngest years, Christian, who was born in the second semester of his father’s freshman year of college, spent weekends traveling from Daphne, Alabama, with his mother to locales across the Southeast to watch his father play. After Ramon graduated and moved back to Daphne to live full-time with his son and now-wife Andrea Williams, Christian tagged along with his father every Friday to watch an uncle play at Daphne. At 7, Christian Williams finally suited up for the first time with his father as his youth coach.

Williams’ foundation for success was already in place, setting him on his path toward Monday, when he officially arrives in Coral Gables as the defensive centerpiece of the Miami Hurricanes’ Class of 2019. A four-star cornerback in the composite rankings, Williams is the prospect who sent cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph sprinting around the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility on National Signing Day when he flipped from the Alabama Crimson Tide. An Under Armour All-American, the defensive back is the highest-ranked defensive prospect in Miami’s 2019 recruiting class and a candidate to win an open starting cornerback job.

“I used to always hear about my dad playing in high school and him playing in college, so I wanted to be like him, really,” Williams said. “I just tried to make up my mind while I was younger, so then I wouldn’t still have to question myself.”

Dedication for Christian meant total immersion into the sport he loved from such a young age. If there wasn’t a college or high school game to be at on a given weekend, Ramon would make sure to be in front of the television with his son for a full Saturday of college football. What stood out most to Ramon was how frequently his son asked questions about what they were watching.

When Christian started playing at 7, watching games on TV evolved into watching film of his own games. Those questions he would ask about the game in his youngest days became more complex and the living room with his father became his own personal film room.

Although he had mostly been a wide receiver until high school, Christian became a starting cornerback for the Trojans as a sophomore, blowing away coaches with the way he could meld his ideal physique with mental acuity.

“I wasn’t as studious as he was as far as film studies go,” Ramon said. “Basically, my weaknesses and the things that I learned in college, I tried to instill in him at a young age, so he wouldn’t have the same obstacles. I went to a smaller high school, and excelled and stood out, but it caught up with me when I got to college with film breakdown, film study, terminology, so that part I wanted to attack early.”

In the second round of the postseason in 2016, Lanier came down from Montgomery to play Daphne, and one play still stands out to Reggie Hunt, who was Christian’s cornerbacks coach. A wide receiver ran a shallow crossing route from the left sideline toward the middle of the field and Christian intentionally slow-played it. Now 6-foot-1 and about 182 pounds, the athlete undercut the route and pulled in an interception on the way to victory.

“He’s a guy who runs like he’s 5-8,” Trojans coach Kenny King said.

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The combination of physique, athleticism, intelligence and personality is what brought him into the focus for the Hurricanes earlier this year. Rumph didn’t even reach out to the blue-chip prospect until after the early signing period when Williams didn’t sign with Alabama. Until late in the fall, Miami had three cornerbacks committed, so Rumph didn’t try flipping an Alabama prospect from the Crimson Tide until a pair of decommitments left him scrambling through the winter.

Rumph reached out in January and King said there were Hurricanes coaches in town every week for the last four weeks heading into NSD.

First, the position coach had to gain the family’s trust, which was easy. Ramon knew plenty about Rumph’s history and clearly had already watched enough film of Christian to dissect his game. When Rumph finally sat down with Christian, it became obvious Christian had the personality Rumph likes to go along with a frame obviously ideal for the Hurricanes’ man-to-man system.

“He really wanted to learn and he knew a lot from being coached by his dad, Ramon Williams, and being coached by his high school coach,” Rumph said. “His football IQ jumped off the charts for me, what a smart kid he was.”

All throughout high school, Christian wore No. 4 to honor his four younger siblings. This is the other reason he has been so dedicated to success: Christian is the oldest of five. More than anything, he wants to set an example for his three brothers and one sister.

Christian probably could have always gotten by on just raw athleticism — he was a great baseball player as a child and also played basketball for the Trojans — but he always knew he could be more, too. Miami hopes for the same thing.

“They always taught me that my siblings are always looking up to me and seeing what I do,” Christian said. “I just know I’ve got to be a big role model for them.”