Ooltewah High School
• Height: 6-foot-1
• Weight: 175 pounds
• College interest: Austin Peay, UT-Martin, UT-Chattanooga
Mike Williams had a breakout junior season for the Ooltewah High School football team, leading the Owls in catches, yards and touchdowns. Not bad for a guy in his first season as a starter.
During the 2012 season, Williams found out there was a lot he can do. His production improved as the season went along and he became acclimated to the strength of District 5-AAA. His progress was similar to the team’s: The Owls were 2-3 before reeling off seven consecutive wins.
This year, both he and the team intend to build off that stretch of success.
“We’re working to win state this season,” Williams said. “That starts with working hard in practice, though. We can’t take any days off to achieve our goals.”
He is slotted at No. 11 in the Times Free Press Dynamite Baker’s Dozen for the preseason’s top area players. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound receiver had 34 catches, 648 yards and nine touchdowns last year, and he’s ready to do more. He proved that by not taking any days off after a tough loss to Columbia Central in the Class 5A state quarterfinals. He was right back training again the next week. A part of his offseason training was working out with current Ohio State freshman defensive back Vonn Bell.
“I learned a lot about how to handle the small things,” Williams said when asked about what he learned from the former Ridgeland standout. “I learned about things that you can do and can’t do.”
Williams boasts that on Friday nights after games, he goes home and watches game video burned for the team by the Ooltewah coaching staff. For non-football entertainment, he lists Drake, J. Cole, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift among his favorite artists.
Ohio Valley Conference teams Austin Peay and UT-Martin have made scholarship offers to Williams, who runs a 40-yard dash in the 4.6 range. He has big hands for receiving and a frame that could pack on a few more pounds and make him even more ready for his ultimate goals.
“I want to go pro,” he said. “I’ve got to get to college first, but I’m ready to get to combines and show what I can do. I’ve put in a lot of time over the past two years.”
<em>Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.</em>