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2024 UW Recruiting Profile: Justice Williams, WR

Shephard’s WR1 of the Future

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Portland State at Washington

As per tradition, I’m spending the offseason working my way through the upcoming recruiting class. I’ll be taking a look at the tape of our current Class of 2024 commitments, getting a feel for their skills and talent, and assessing where they might fit on our roster. You can my find other 2024 UW recruiting profiles here.

Justice Williams (WR, 6’4” 195, Oaks Christian HS, CA)

One of my favorite commits in UW’s 2024 class, Justice Williams, a consensus 3-star wide receiver prospect out of Oaks Christian down in California, brings NFL potential to Jamarcus Shephard’s WR room. Hailing from the prominent high school program that produced Pac-12 and NFL players such as Kayvon Thibodeaux, Zach Charbonnet, and Colby Parkinson, and boasting a NFL pedigree (his dad Roland Williams played TE for the Raiders), Williams brings an intriguing combination of size and athletic potential to the Huskies’ wide receiver corps.

While he’s not our top rated WR commit in the ‘24 class (Jason Robinson Jr. holds that distinction), Husky fans should keep an eye on Williams’ ranking as a potential riser in the rankings through his senior season. Major programs like Oregon, Miami, Michigan State, Utah, and Arizona have all made offers to Williams, so there’s definitely a disconnect between his current ranking and how college coaches are viewing his potential. Fortunately for us, Coach Shephard has secured his commitment, fending off the aforementioned programs. Utah and Syracuse seemed to have been our biggest competition for Williams with both schools hosting him on official visits prior to his decision to commit to UW.


Right off the bat, Williams stands out as a big-bodied wide receiver. Measuring in at 6’4” and 195 lbs, Williams would already be one of the biggest scholarship WRs (tied for tallest with Denzel Boston) in a position group that Shephard’s been stocking with bigger/faster athletes since he arrived. What’s more important than his pure size at WR is that Williams possesses a growing understanding of how to leverage his size advantage on the field. Lots of WRs play bigger and smaller than their size, and Williams is starting to play up to his size in contested catch situations. He does a good job making catches away from his body, elevating to the high point, and has strong hands through contact from what was shown on his hudl tape. He also showcases physicality in the run game and shows that he isn’t afraid of contact. Pair all of those traits with his long speed and quick acceleration, and he could be a nightmare after the catch. Another concern with bigger/taller WRs are their change of direction ability (remember all of the hoopla about DK Metcalf’s combine performance?) For Williams, his change of direction is solid and crisp breaks in his routes, so I’m not all that concerned about his agility.

Looking more specifically at his play style, I saw a ton of deep ball plays on his tape, and it seems to be his forte at this point in his development. Williams demonstrates versatility in his ability to win deep with a good feel for releases off the line of scrimmage when playing against press or cloud coverage. He also has the ability to utilize his acceleration to quickly burn through an off coverage cushion and stack defensive backs vertically. In both situations, he does a good job of fighting through contact and rarely gets knocked off his route.

While primarily playing on the boundary, he also sees action on the field perimeter, showcasing his flexibility within different perimeter receiver roles. Other than the deep ball, Williams also showed a mix of stop routes (like hitches), in-breaking routes (slants & digs), and screens (again showcasing his YAC upside). He has a good feel for space against zone coverages and didn’t run himself into coverage.

If I were to summarize Williams as a prospect with a comparison to another player, I’d say he reminds me of current UW WR Denzel Boston with shades of Rome Odunze. Like Boston when he was a HS player, Williams has the size and athletic upside that could be an intriguing X-WR down the road (outside to the boundary against CB1). However, neither Williams or Boston had the type of technical polish that elevated Odunze to blue chip recruit status. Boston’s traits and level of development serves as a reasonable benchmark, while Odunze represents a potential target for Williams’ continued growth and refinement. The early hype around Boston already shows that there’s a formula for developing WRs with traits into future stars once they get on campus with Shephard.

Speaking of development, the key areas that I think Shephard will focus on with Williams are all about rounding out his skill set as a do-it-all WR. Like I mentioned before, Williams has played almost exclusively from the perimeter with a condensed vertical and YAC-oriented route tree. At the next level, and particularly in Grubb’s formation & match up-heavy offense, Williams will need to develop the skills necessary to play from different alignments and a bigger route tree. As we saw from Odunze last year, playing in our offense is more than just winning vertically or making snags on chain-moving 3rd down slant routes. We run a ton of outbreaking routes, as well as double move routes. Those routes weren’t on Williams’ hudl tape, and mastering those routes aren’t as easy as running those routes. One thing that doesn’t get often get thought of is the nuanced reaction that DBs have against certain routes. The vertical routes that Williams is familiar with place himself between the ball and the defender, and they also lead him towards the end zone. This usually leaves defenders lunging to make shoestring tackles from behind. By comparison, many of the intermediate and outbreaking routes that Williams will need to run at the next level put him squarely in the middle of heavy traffic and with defenders squaring up on him with a full head of steam. Holding on to catches in those situations are much harder than what he’s faced so far, which is why I was hesitant to say that he’s a proven possession receiver.

I trust that Williams’ HS coaches will continue to refine those skills with him through his senior year, so there’s a chance he may arrive on Montlake with most of those development questions put to rest. I mean, Williams’ HC is Charlie Collins, the former JUCO and NFL WR coach who developed Chad Johnson and Steve Smith during their time at Santa Monica City College. That’s a pretty impressive resume that should instill faith in Williams’ HS development. Regardless, Williams is an exciting addition to the WR room that seems well prepared to fill Odunze’s big shoes after this season.