The Clemson defender lined up in front of Jarvis Williams was blitzing.
Williams knew it and broke off his route.
Mike Glennon, the backup quarterback in the game for N.C. State's final drive last week, saw it. He zinged a pass to Williams for the junior wide receiver's ninth touchdown catch of the season.
Williams is climbing N.C. State's all-time season touchdown catches chart as the Wolfpack (4-6, 1-5 ACC) prepares to visit Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Just five times in school history has an N.C. State player caught more touchdown passes in a season than Williams.
On Oct. 31 at Florida State, all three of Williams' catches went for touchdowns, all for 7 yards or fewer. He has 36 receptions for 472 yards overall, but his past five TDs have come on passes from inside the 10-yard line.
His size at 6 feet 4 and 205 pounds makes him an inviting target in goal-line situations. He said his ability to make good reads when the quarterback has less time to throw also helps.
"Once you're in the red zone, you've got to be alert and know that the ball is coming out faster with blitzes and stuff like that," Williams said. "I'm just smarter in the red zone and more alert. ... I want to get the ball, so I try to beat my man faster to get the ball in the end zone."
A role model
Williams' love of football blossomed as a young child while he watched his older half-brother, Charles Anthony, dominating the Pop Warner ranks. Williams' father, Charles Williams, suffered from diabetes and died when Jarvis was 7 years old.
Anthony, who is five years older than Williams, provided a good male role model while they were growing up in Orlando, Fla. When Anthony started wearing designer label clothes, Williams did, too. The first time Anthony got a tattoo, Williams did, too.
"I love him for that," Williams said. "He's a good big brother."
Anthony went on to win Division I-AA All-America honors as a running back at Tennessee State. Early on, all Williams could do was watch as Anthony scored three or four touchdowns a game in youth football.
At 8 years old, Williams suffered a seizure that kept him out of competitive sports for two years. After Williams was medically cleared, he became a high-profile football recruit and a first-team all-state basketball player at Jones High.
He said Florida coach Urban Meyer came to his high school on the day Williams was scheduled to leave for his official visit at N.C. State and urged him not to go.
But N.C. State and former wide receivers coach Dwayne Dixon had stuck with Williams while a miscommunication about his transcript left his eligibility in question.
Williams said other schools pulled back while he sorted out the problem. When it came time to commit, Williams rewarded the N.C. State staff for its loyalty.
Now coach Tom O'Brien is impressed with his enthusiasm for football. Williams was the first player off the bus when it arrived at Carter-Finley Stadium last week.
"He led the walk of champions," O'Brien said. "He was right with me. I said, 'Jarvis, are you excited?' He said, 'I can't wait.' So that's what you like to hear. He gets his opportunity and goes and makes the most of it."
Softening the defense
That spirit carries over into everything Williams does on the field.
Some wide receivers save their energy for pass routes and don't exert much effort as blockers on running plays. Williams believes his blocking creates opportunities for him to catch passes.
He is bigger and stronger than most cornerbacks. On running plays, he goes after them hard, trying to physically dominate them. He softens them up so they will give him some cushion instead of bumping and jamming him off the line of scrimmage on a passing play.
"Blocking definitely is a key to getting more space," he said.
Quarterback Russell Wilson said he doesn't look for Williams more than any other receiver on the goal line. But Williams' size makes him an ideal target on high throws on fade routes.
He has the leaping ability to go up and catch balls that defensive backs can't reach. That can be a huge factor on short passes into the end zone.
"He's learned to use his size and power to his advantage," O'Brien said. "He's a big target, and he's tough to get a handle on, especially if the ball gets up high. He can go up and get it, and he's made a lot of catches that way."
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