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Mile High Morning: RB Javonte Williams preparing for matchup against former UNC teammates


The Lead

Before he was a second-round pick and starting running back for the Broncos, Javonte Williams made a name for himself in the UNC backfield.

In the Tar Heels' 2019 season opener against South Carolina, Williams surpassed 100 rushing yards for the first time in his college career. UNC's quarterback that day? Now-Commanders quarterback Sam Howell, who was making his first start for UNC and capped off an 11-point comeback with a go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

That comeback was only the beginning of their partnership, and Howell and Williams continued to punish defenses over the next two seasons. In 2020, UNC finished 18th in the Final AP poll behind Howell's 30 passing touchdowns and Williams' 1,140 rushing yards and 22 total touchdowns. Wide receiver Dyami Brown, who also plays for the Commanders, was the Tar Heels' leading receiver with 1,099 yards.

Since then, the three have established themselves at the NFL level and will face off at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday. After Wednesday's practice, Williams had high praise for his former quarterback.

"Oh yeah, I always knew Sam was going to be good," Williams said. "I'll wish him the best on Sunday, but hopefully he [doesn't] do too good."

Williams said Howell's ability to endear himself to teammates has been a common thread between his collegiate and NFL success.

"Just his ability to be coachable and how well he [gets along] with people in the locker room," Williams said of Howell. "You could put him anywhere, and he's going to make a friend."

Williams said he hasn't reached out to Howell leading into the Broncos' matchup against the Commanders, but he looks back fondly on the time they spent together in Chapel Hill.

"I mean, that's my dawg," Williams said. "We had a lot of good times."

The Unclassifieds

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