Josh Williams was born in Houston, Texas, and has been a lifelong fan of LSU. His father, Jermaine, led the way for his love for football, as he played four seasons in the NFL, suiting up for the Buccaneers, Raiders, Jaguars and Chiefs. His little brother, Jordan, is also a Division I athlete, entering his freshman season for Texas A&M’s basketball team.
Growing up, Josh played multiple sports, including basketball, baseball, and football. He was very talented at basketball during his youth. He and six other young high school basketball stars accompanied Hakeem Olajuwon on a trip to China to help spread the game of basketball worldwide.
“Going into my freshman year in high school, I went to China with Hakeem Olajuwon and Mengke Bateer with the Olajuwon Bateer Dream Academy,” Williams explained. “The whole concept of it was to bring the top American and Chinese basketball players together and give them a chance to play against each other.”
During his high school career, Williams continued to play both sports, and he earned multiple Division I football offers from schools such as Lafayette, Drake and Dayton. He turned down offers from those schools and decided to attend LSU as a preferred walk-on.
“I never did the camps in high school to help myself earn stars, so I never really got looked at from some of the bigger Division I schools,” Williams said, “but I always knew deep down that I was a player, and I could play on that level, so I wanted to challenge and bet on myself at LSU.”
Williams’ freshman season at LSU came in 2019, when he injured his knee early in the season and was relegated to scout team. After rehabbing from his knee injury, he would redshirt to maintain four years of eligibility.
“My freshman year at LSU, maybe week two or three, I injured my knee,” Williams recalled. “I came back in time for spring ball the following year after we won the National Championship, and then Covid hit right at the beginning of spring ball. We got sent home for the rest of the spring semester, and I trained with my dad, brother, and his friends every day. Then, I came back for summer workouts and grinded, and at the end of fall camp, they gave me a scholarship.”
His bet on himself paid off. He was officially a scholarship player at his dream university. He would play in every game in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, rushing for a total of 195 yards on 45 rushes for an average of 4.33 yards per carry. Williams had a 24-yard rush against Florida last season which helped set the Tigers up for the win versus the Gators.
During a disappointing 2021 season, LSU and coach Ed Orgeron decided to part ways, leaving one of the most sought-after coaching jobs in the nation open. Athletics Director Scott Woodward would go on to hire one of the winningest head coaches in college football history, Brian Kelly.
With a complete overhaul in the coaching staff, some transfers were inevitable for LSU, but Williams never wavered on his commitment to the Tigers.
“I was committed to LSU 100%,” Williams, a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, said. “I’m graduating this upcoming semester with a degree in business marketing. I had a conversation with Coach Kelly, and I loved his process, ‘Graduate Champions,’ and I feel everything that he’s adding to the program is a positive. I believe over time he is going to keep getting us better and better.”
Williams’ decision to stay has been paying off, as he is having his best collegiate season to date, with 35 rushes, 123 yards and three touchdowns. He earned his first career start on the road in a win against Auburn, where he had 17 carries for 68 yards and led the team in both categories. The first touchdown of his career came in the 2022 home opener against Southern.
“It was an amazing feeling and such a surreal moment,” Williams said of his first TD. “All this time I’ve been here, I never got to score a touchdown. I had a few carries here and there, but to finally get into the end zone, it made everything come full circle and it was exhilarating.”
With more memories coming this season, Josh still looks back to his freshman season for his most memorable moment as a Tiger.
“It would have to be the 2019 season when we beat Oklahoma (in the CFP semifinal) in Atlanta. That was probably the best moment I’ve had because of the way we won. It was just a dominating win for us. Of course, the National Championship was a great moment, but preparing the whole week for the Oklahoma game, and then going out there and just dominating them was probably the best moment I’ve had at LSU.
“There was just greatness all over the field, and you could feel the energy that team had.”