By JIMMY WIGFIELD
MONTGOMERY — Ryan Williams catapulted onto a rung of greatness no other high school football player in Alabama has ever achieved by being named Mr. Football for an unprecedented second straight year on Tuesday.
The Saraland five-star prospect, who recommitted to Alabama last week, led the Spartans to a 28-2 record the last two seasons with a Class 6A state championship in 2022 and a runner-up finish in 2023. He was the first sophomore to win Mr. Football last season and is the first player in state history to win it twice.
“I felt like I had just as good a chance as anyone,” Williams said afterward. “The work I put in on the field shows. It means a lot. It’s a privilege and an honor. I’m thankful for my family and my teammates.”
Williams originally committed to Alabama as a sophomore in October 2022, then decommitted shortly after coach Nick Saban announced his retirement.
Williams was considered the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the nation in the 2025 class, the top prospect in Alabama and the No. 4 overall player in the country. After reclassifying to the 2024 class in December, Williams is now ranked the No. 1 receiver in the nation in the ESPN 300 and is ranked the No. 5 prospect nationally and the No. 3 wide receiver nationally, according to On3’s latest composite.
When Williams was announced as the Class 6A Back of the Year over two of his closest friends, former Saraland teammate K.J. Lacey and Alabama signee Jaylen Mbakwe, it was all but assured he would make history as the only two-time Mr. Football winner. Moments later, he officially accepted the plaque signifying he is the best player among the 30,000 who played the sport in the state last season.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect coming in,” Spartans coach Jeff Kelly said. “There’s a ton of good players out there just in 6A. You look at what Ryan, Jaylen and K.J. have done, they’re three of the best. I’m super proud of the year K.J. had. He is super deserving. When you have outstanding young men who are also your best players and best leaders, it gives you a good chance to be successful. Repeating is a tremendous honor for Ryan.”
Lacey was happy for his former teammate.
“That’s two years in a row, a clean sweep,” Lacey said, adding Williams was also the Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama for two straight years.
Williams’ numbers in 2023 weren’t as good as they were in 2022 because he rarely played an entire game and Saraland had even more playmakers but his statistics were on a level most players can only dream of.
He led Class 6A in receiving yards (1,324) and touchdown catches (19) and had 72 receptions in all. He ran for 261 yards on 30 carries and seven TDs.
Williams — who reclassified as a senior in December — finished his high school career with 4,440 yards of total offense and 74 touchdowns and scored on average every four snaps. He had 187 receptions for 3,254 yards and 47 TDs despite frequent double teams and ran for 1,078 yards on 94 carries and 24 TDs.
‘I’ve got to make me happy’