Former NFA star Jalen Williams helps lead the way for talented brother Josh

By Sean Lynch
Section 9 Football Insider Staff

NEWBURGH— It was a beautiful Thursday morning at Newburgh Free Academy. The sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. The slight breeze kept the temperature reasonably low; especially considering it’s the middle of July.

Senior defensive lineman Josh Williams was sitting in the corner of the end zone after a morning workout with the rest of his teammates. He didn’t show signs of exhaustion, but the sweat on his forehead showed that he recently finished a solid workout.

Jalen Williams showed up a few minutes late to pick up his younger brother Josh from the football workout — the result of his own workout at nearby Gold’s Gym. Josh smiled as Newburgh coach Bill Bianco sarcastically asked his older brother if he’s “gone Hollywood.”

Four years earlier, Jalen starred as a safety for the Goldbacks. He was a three star recruit under Bianco and had six Division I college offers. He decided to play football at the University of Pittsburgh where he moved to outside linebacker. He red-shirted during his freshman season after an injury and played 15 games during his three years as a reserve outside linebacker, including nine in 2017 before a meniscus tear held him out for the rest of the season. While at Pittsburgh, Jalen obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. He will transfer to the University of Rhode Island as a red-shirt senior to play his final season and obtain a Master’s degree.

“Jalen is not only an older brother, but a mentor to me,” said Josh. “He gives me hope that I can play football collegiately. I can ask him anything and he’ll always give me the right answer.”

Josh says that a couple of schools are interested in him, including Rhode Island.

The two often bond and compete off the field as well. Both brothers compete against each other in video games such as Madden, NBA 2K and admit they spend too much time teaming up together on Fortnite.

“I try to be someone Josh can look up to,” said the elder Williams. “He has the same passion for the game that I do and he has the determination and will to be a great player.”

Josh estimates he had about 50 tackles and a few sacks last season, but he wants to focus on the overall team performance and not his individual stats. “I want to win the sections and then make some noise in the state championship.”

When comparing the two as players, Jalen said his brother has a tougher assignment than he did at high school.

“He has a tougher assignment than I did when I was here,” Jalen Williams said. “You have to have a certain skillset to be a good defensive lineman. There’s a lot more contact compared to being at safety, and he has a good combination of speed and strength to make impact plays at the line of scimmage.”

Despite playing different positions in different levels of football, Jalen and Josh will always share a special bond from football. That connection was certainly on display at NFA on Thursday.

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