FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Quinnen Williams passed on paying for a big-name, high-priced personal trainer during his first NFL offseason.
The New York Jets rookie defensive lineman simply pressed play on his laptop at home.
“I just worked out on my own – I can YouTube everything,” Williams said with a big, braces-filled smile Friday. “I don’t really have to go pay a superstar super-performance dude. I can use YouTube and just do it. On the field, you can’t take a performance coach with you, so I used YouTube a lot and did a lot of stuff that we do here over and over.”
Apparently, the video binging worked.
The No. 3 overall draft pick arrived in terrific shape at the team’s facility Friday morning to sign his rookie contract, officially ending his one-practice holdout.
“It was a huge relief, man, just to be back with my brothers,” Williams said. “Be back with the team, be back in New York and New Jersey. It’s just amazing.”
Then, he went out and “crushed” his conditioning test, coach Adam Gase raved.
“I’m just ready to perform,” Williams said. “I feel way better than I was in college; I feel way stronger, way faster and way more flexible.”
The former Alabama star worked out at his alma mater and Georgia Tech during the offseason, spending 18 hours a day between the gym, saunas, hot tubs, cold tubs and massage tables to get himself in perhaps the best shape of his life.
With the help of the internet, of course.
He dropped his playing weight of 305 pounds from last year with the Crimson Tide to about 295. Williams’ body fat is also down from 20% to 15% after tweaking his diet – with assistance from the Jets’ nutritionist – by eating more vegan plant-based proteins.
“I did a lot of conditioning and ran track a lot,” Williams said. “I saw (Eagles wide receiver) DeSean Jackson running track all the time, so I got me some track cleats to start running track. It got me in great shape.”
Now, Williams is eager to get on the field and start practicing.
That will happen Saturday, the team’s first session in pads, after Gase and the Jets decided to not rush Williams into the mix after a hectic 24-hour stretch for the youngster. Williams agreed to terms Thursday on his four-year, $32.5 million deal that includes a $21.7 million signing bonus, flew to New Jersey later that night and put his pen to paper early Friday morning.
“We just thought it was the right move, just pulling him out of practice and not put him in a bad situation,” Gase said.
Surprisingly, there was only a bit of razzing by Williams’ teammates when he showed up at practice, unlike the welcome Sam Darnold received as he was slow-clapped onto the field last summer after he ended his three-practice holdout.
“I just heard, ‘Big Money,’ a lot,” Williams said with a laugh. “All the guys here know I’m not a real big spender. They know I’m a kid, almost. I’m really a goofy, laid-back, cool person, so there really hasn’t been a lot said about it.”
But once the whistle blew, Williams did all he could to control himself from running out on the field during the two-hour session.
“I was just fidgeting on the sideline, like, ‘Man, I know this play. I know what to do on D-line,’” he said, smiling. “I was just really taking mental reps on the sideline.”
That’s aspect of Williams’ game that has really impressed Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The defensive lineman’s ability to quickly pick up the playbook and apply it to the practice field has him in position already to be a major contributor.
“His football intelligence is off the charts,” Gase said.
In the Jets’ defense, Williams will be moved all around the line – at nose tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end.
“It helps him get an extra step outside of his athletic ability,” Gase said of Williams’ football I.Q. “You look at the guys that have a lot of success like Aaron Donald, he is smart and he’s a freak athletically. So, when you put those two things together, they make it tough to stop.”
All that despite the 6-foot-6 Williams still developing after not being a starter in college until last season. He quickly became a force for the Crimson Tide as a nearly unblockable D-lineman with an intriguing combination of quickness, power and strong hands. He won the Outland Trophy as college football’s best interior lineman after getting eight sacks last season with 19 1/2 tackles for loss.
“He’s in the backfield a lot,” Gase said. “I mean, he’s a good player.”
And, now, Williams wants to make his mark, someday in a starring role in his own highlight video.
“I just can’t wait to compete,” the big rookie said, “and ball out this year with my brothers and win games.”
NOTES: CB Brian Poole, activated from the non-football injury list Thursday, caused two turnovers in his first practice of camp. … RG Brian Winters returned after he missed Thursday’s practice to be with his wife, who gave birth to a boy.
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