Taj Williams knew he was going to return to Livonia Churchill.
After the junior moved with his father to Georgia and started out as a quarterback for Stockbridge High School, Williams found his way back on the Chargers sidelines several times during their season, joking with players and coaches. , telling them, “I’m coming back, I’m coming back.”
But senior cornerback Joshua Brown knew it was no joke, receiving texts from Williams throughout his junior season, logging in, planning what their senior seasons might look like together.
âWe all knew he was coming back,â said Brown, smiling.
By early 2021, Williams was already in class with Churchill head coach Bill DeFillippo going over different defensive looks and offensive plans, getting the booster he needed after a year away from attacking.
Even though Williams’ season in Georgia was cut short due to a broken collarbone, he saw how important football could be and saw his place in it.
Heading into his senior season, Williams is a quarterback who has never lacked confidence. He strives to bring that dedication and speed back with him to the Detroit subway.
Lessons learned in the south
Williams thought he would fit right into Georgia high school football.
The junior quarterback was confident, following a season in which he went from JV to varsity at Churchill early on and became a staple in DeFillippo’s offense, complimenting quarterback Gavin Brooks with his ability to run.
“I think he still believes in himself and works hard,” said Brian Alsobrooks, Williams’ JV coach and former Churchill quarterback. âI think that’s an important thing to have as a quarterback. You have to believe in yourself and be sure that you can go out and make all the plays and make all the throws. I think Taj has this belief in himself.
Williams got a little warning shot again when he first arrived at Stockbridge High School, 30 minutes outside of Atlanta.
The main difference he saw was speed, facing SEC rookies while executing a triple option offense. But it wasn’t something he found intimidating, but rather something he could step into.
âEveryone’s work ethic is everything,â said Williams. âEvery morning, work, football. Football: that’s all they do there. I really enjoyed and learned a lot there. Always be physical. Just having the right mindset with anything and everything. And just the bullet. Compete with anyone.
For the remainder of his junior season, Williams was in training with the Tigers every day, teaching the young quarterback how to execute the triple option, breaking down each read the same way Brooks helped him teach it. in second year in Livonia.
But as Williams worked to recover from his collarbone injury, he knew he wanted to return to Churchill, seeing it as the best opportunity for him to shine. The Chargers quarterback heading into the 2021 season was Boston Clegg Jr., the running back and linebacker, who supported Brooks as a junior.
When Williams returned to Churchill in January, he knew what his role would be.
âWhen I came back I already knew I was going to be a coming guy,â said Williams. “In terms of working with them, I already knew the offense, so it was just to pick up the pace with them, to find that chemistry with them.”
Since returning in January, Williams’ main goal has been to pick up the pace of Churchill’s football.
On the football field, DeFillippo thinks the transition isn’t that difficult. In Stockbridge, when Williams ran the triple option, he was still out of the shotgun using many of the same plays as Churchill. The head coach’s goal is to get his senior quarterback back on track and get back to the Chargers footwork.
âHe’s still, even two years ago, showcased his strengths,â DeFillippo said. âHe’s always been good at running football, reading and being an athlete. He has a good arm so what I can’t wait to see is the improved passing game.
When Williams first returned and started working with his offensive pieces, senior wide receiver Bailey Brooks admitted things were going a bit, sensing a learning curve between him and his quarterback.
But since early June, the pair have not missed a beat.
âI feel like I’m finally getting used to it, sort of integrating new things with Taj. It looks normal again, âBailey Brooks said. “Back to normal.”
That’s what Williams hoped for: normalcy. He wants to use the skills he developed in Stockbridge only to advance what he can do in Churchill. And in his senior season, his first real chance to lead the Chargers, Williams has high expectations.
âYou just have to win,â he said. âIt’s my last turn. Me and Bailey have been going to school together since fifth grade. That’s all we talked about: state championship.
âI think this team here, I feel like this team, this year we have a good chance of succeeding. It is up to us.