Williamson thankful to be at Wesley

Wesley-James Williamson by .

James Williamson (2) will be returning to his hometown of Baltimore when Wesley travels to Johns Hopkins on Saturday. (State News file photos)

DOVER — Sure, James Williamson missed football.

But he says earning his college degree meant just as much as getting back on the field.

“Being one of the first guys out of my family to get my degree was just so important,” said Williamson. “After being in school for so long, I couldn’t just stop — just give up.”

Williamson’s athletic and educational careers both looked like they came to a sad end last October.

The junior defensive back and four other California, Pa. football players were arrested for beating a man outside a local restaurant.

All of the players were expelled from school. Williamson spent seven days in jail.

Later, however, the local district attorney dropped all the charges against Williamson.

“Not one of the four witnesses who testified ever identified Williamson as being at the scene, let alone as an individual who allegedly struck the victim,” Williamson’s attorney,
Scott Lautner, was quoted after filing a lawsuit against the school and the county.

Looking for a second chance, Williamson ended up at Wesley College last spring.

Coach Mike Drass, whose Wolverines (10-1) go to Johns Hopkins (11-0) on Saturday at noon for a second-round NCAA Division III playoff game, said Williamson has been a model student-athlete since he’s been around him.

“He’s someone that just melded right in with our kids,” said Drass. “It’s like he’s been with us for four years.

“I’ve never seen a kid work so hard on transfer credits in my entire life. He’s serious about getting his degree and going out and having a good life.”

Williamson, who is working toward a degree in business management, is slated to finish school in the fall.

This year he’s has played a number of different spots in Wesley’s defense. The 6-foot, 195-pound senior has lined up as both a defensive back and an outside linebacker.

He’s third on the team in tackles with 56 and is second on the squad in tackles for loss with nine for 23 yards in losses.

Williamson says it was rough being out of school and out of football. He want back home to Baltimore and got a job with UPS.

Wesley, though, made him feel right at home.

“I thought it was going to be tough and I was going to just stay to myself,” said Williamson. “But, as soon as I got here, the guys just welcomed me. Especially with my whole situation, what happened, just being accepted easily into a family like that, it was a great feeling.

“A lot of people don’t have this opportunity. A lot of people don’t get a second chance so I’m just blessed and thankful for having that option to still continue to play. So I’ve just got to give it all.”

It seems fitting that Williamson gets to play one last game in his hometown of Baltimore on Saturday. He hasn’t played a game there since his senior year in high school.
A lot of family and friends are planning to be at the game.

“It’s my senior year and it’s the playoffs, I get to play home against a good team, so it’s special,” said Williamson. “During this week, everybody’s been saying, ‘We’re coming, we’re coming.’ It just feels good.”

Kemp catches on

You can’t really blame Framingham State.

Looking at all Wesley’s talented offensive players, the Rams couldn’t concentrate on everybody.

Wesley football-Alex Kemp by .

CR grad Alex Kemp had a big day at WR in Wesley’s first round playoff game.

So they left receiver Alex Kemp in some single coverages and the Caesar Rodney High grad responded with six catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the Wolverines’ 42-22 playoff win.

“Everyone says they run a 4.5/40,” said Drass. “Alex legitimately runs a 4.5/40. He has that type of speed. The guy he beat for the 69-yard touchdown, that wasn’t a slow person. And he beat him. The more speed you have in your arsenal like that, the better off you are.”

In his first season after switching from quarterback, Kemp has 33 receptions for 502 yards with seven TDs. He earned honorable mention honors on the all-New Jersey Athletic Conference team.

With QB Joe Callahan graduating, the question remains whether Kemp will move back to quarterback in the spring.

“Alex has already proved himself as a receiver,” said Drass. “Could he be a quarterback here in the future? He sure could. But we’re not making any decisions right now.”

“I talk about it with the other receivers,” said Kemp. “It’s still in my mind. To me, I’m still a quarterback at heart. But I like playing receiver. It’s just something I’ll have to think about.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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