Ryan Williams’ younger brothers Zaylon, 9, front, and Emery, 7, right, help keep the five-star recruit grounded. They enjoy working out together. (John O’Dell/Call News)
By JIMMY WIGFIELD
Zaylon and Emery Williams don’t know they are sleeping down the hall from a five-star recruit. They just know their big brother Ryan is faster than they are.
Of course, he is faster than everybody else, too.
Zaylon, 9, a third-grader nicknamed “Fat,” and Emery, 7, a first-grader nicknamed “Chunk,” don’t recognize yet all the titles their older brother holds — Saraland wide receiver, Hollywood, Mr. Football, Alabama commitment and top-three national recruit in the class of 2025.
“They don’t look at it that way,” Ryan Williams said. “I’m just their big brother. They crack jokes on me all the time.”
Fat, Chunk and Hollywood enjoy working out with their father, Big Ryan, who puts his younger sons through the same drills as everybody else. They’re already learning good habits and how to work hard.
“Wooorrrkkk,” their father says as they complete each repetition.
A big smile often creases Ryan Williams’ face while watching his brothers make a catch and fake each other out.
“I want them to be better than me,” he said. “Everything that I learn, I want to try to point to them like my dad did for me, on top of what he already does.”
Even their mother, CoCo, does some coaching.
“Better watch his hips,” she told Fat, who had just been juked by Chunk.
“How do you know that?” Fat asked.
“I know,” she laughed. “I know.”
Big Ryan said his two younger sons are engraining a high standard by watching and trying to emulate their older brother.
“Them watching their big brother has taken it to another level,” he said. “Not saying we expect them to do what he’s done but we expect them to take it up another notch because they’ve got a great example to look at.”
Ryan Williams knows his brothers and others look up to him and he takes it seriously.
“It definitely pushes me a little more,” he said. “Just for me to be that person that people look up to, it tells me that I’m doing something right, at least, and it makes me feel good. I just keep doing the same every day. It’s not like I’m changing anything.”
The competition does not end once they walk off the field. After returning home from a recent workout, Chunk wanted more and his big brother obliged.
“Chunk could have done three more hours,” Ryan Williams said. “They don’t like doing push-ups but we’ll do some high knees. I’ll get them in the hallway or say, ‘Run four laps around the couch, 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, hold the plank for 30 seconds.’ The whole time, Chunk is, ‘One, two, three …’”
Big Ryan said having a close family is an important element in keeping things normal as his son has become a national recruit.
“I think that’s one thing that helps keep all of us grounded, the fact we have each other and we know deep secrets about each other,” he said.
Fat and Chunk may not grasp what recruiting means but they enjoy the trips to the campuses and massive stadiums.
“All they do is run around the whole time,” Ryan Williams said. “It’s like a big playground.”