Former walk-on James ‘JD’ Williams was a standout defensive back from Fresno State, who boasted great measurables due in part to his track numbers. He ran the 100 meters in 10.58 seconds (4.29 40), had a triple jump of over 53 feet, and a vertical leap of 39 inches. JD also had some accolades and stats to go with it, earning First team All-Big West Conference selections as both a Junior and a Senior- his only two years as a starter. He had 9 pass deflections, 58 tackles, and 4 sacks in 1989. Williams was also a dangerous special teams contributor, blocking 6 punts in 1988 (NCAA Division I-AA Record). With a smooth backpedal, solid tackling, and a natural bump and run defender, Williams shot up the draft charts that year.
The Buffalo Bills picked JD with the 16th selection of the 1990 Draft. He’d be the second defender off the board and the first cornerback overall. (Outside of safety Mark Carrier, this proved to be a poor draft overall for the secondary with only safety LeRoy Butler and corner Eric Davis even making ProBowl appearances.) Williams admittedly was not prepared for the rigors and competition at the NFL level. JD was allowed to wear the hallowed #31 jersey that the Bills had retired to: ‘memorialize the spirit of the fan’… or something corny like that. (Williams wore 31 in college.) He joined the Bills at the right time, providing much needed depth for the team to reach 4 consecutive Super Bowls.
In 1995 JD signed with the Arizona Cardinals, but in a twist of fate, he broke both of his ankles. It was his best season as a pro. He was never the same. Williams spent one season after that in San Francisco, and retired after the 1996 season.
From there Williams decided to finish his degree, and somewhere along the way got back into coaching. He’s been working at the college level for sometime now as a defensive backs coach with stops at Cal Poly, San Jose State, Fresno State, California, Washington and currently (as of 2015) at UNLV.
G/Gs 70/35 Tac 133 Sac 0 Fum 1
Int 11 Yds 74 Avg 6.7 Td 0 Lg 29