Williams experiences big time football in Phoenix

Friday, January 20, 2012
Lewisburg Middle School 8th grader Peyton Williams (49) poses with three members of the United States Marine Corps during his week in Phoenix, Ariz. where he participated in the Inaugural United States Marines Corps Junior Rank All-Academic game, presented by Russell Athletics at Chase Field. Photo submitted

As reported earlier, Lewisburg's Peyton Williams was selected to play in the Inaugural United States Marines Corps Junior Rank All-Academic game, presented by Russell Athletics at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz. on Jan. 3 and the standout Tiger 8th grader made the most of his experience, on and off the field.

Williams' father Roger said about the experience, "Peyton made friends for life and gained the respect of the top recruits in the country. The trip was a great experience for everyone. Junior Rank, the Hyatt, and Chase Field was top notch."

The participants traveled by chartered buses and experienced some big-time football from the sidelines as they attended the Insight Bowl, won by Oklahoma over Iowa , an Arizona Cardinals versus Seattle Seahawks NFL contest, marched in the Fiesta Bowl Parade, rubbed elbows with some of the top high school athletes in the country, and were awed by the hosts, the United States Marine Corps.

After an awesome week of practice where he played and made an impact at several positions, the Junior Rank coaches pulled a surprise move when they switched Williams to the defensive end spot in an effort to take advantage of his speed, quickness, and power.

The 5'11"/192 pound Williams went toe to toe with athletes much bigger than himself, ranging in size from 6'1" to 6'5" and 260 pounds and up.

Williams made a name for himself as he dominated on the defensive front, using a devastating speed rush to punish his opponents.

At one point during practice, the coaches told Williams to "tone it down in practice" after some devastating tackles that had the onlookers buzzing.

Before the start of the All-Star game, the coaches told Williams, "now you can go hit them as hard as you want" and Williams made the first tackle in the 8th grade game with a bone-crushing tackle on the opening kickoff from "gunner" position, but unfortunately Williams suffered a mild concussion on the play, and after careful evaluation from the training staff, Williams was held out the remainder of the game.

According to Roger Williams, "They had to take his helmet away from him so he wouldn't try and sneak back in. He was fine, but in today's sports world, concussions are taken very seriously. I thank them for putting his health first."

A film crew captured the entire experience and it will be available to view at a later date.

Williams met several former NCAA and NFL players, including former Penn State and Washington Redskins' linebacker Andre Collins, who took Peyton under his wing and helped him tremendously.

Collins remarked that would like to fly in from California and watch Williams some time during his high school career at MCHS.

Williams also had a big brother for the week in University of California recruit Freddie Tagaloa, a 6'8"/300 pound four-star offensive lineman from Salasion High School in Richmond, Calif.

The Williams' also met a player from Florida who is coached by Jacob Doss, a former quarterback for the Wyoming Cowboys who played for current MCHS head coach Tom Turchetta, and in a text message Doss said, "Tom Turchetta was one of the nicest people he has ever met and he helped him tremendously and he was glad to hear that Turchetta was back into coaching."

The future is a bright one for Williams and the exposure he received in Arizona will certainly help him down the road as the recruiting process heats up.

"Meeting all those people, and seeing my son compete at the highest level with some of the top prospects from around the country, was surreal," said Roger Williams. "He has worked hard and everyone out there could tell it. He wasn't the big fish in the pond in Arizona, but he wasn't a fish out of water either."