Williams hits the books as hard as his opponents

He’s 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds, owns a 30-inch vertical leap and, on a personal note, has a handshake that could turn bone into chalk with the simplest of motions.

He’s Gerald Williams, City College of San Francisco’s starting linebacker and resident tackling machine, and he’ll probably be the most talented football player on the field Saturday when his Rams (5-1) visit the College of San Mateo (5-1) at 1 p.m. CCSF enters the contest, which will take place in San Mateo, ranked sixth in the state, while CSM is a few spots back at No. 10.

Possessing a body made to play linebacker, Williams’ initial plans had him playing at a Division I powerhouse this fall, basking in the fervent atmosphere of Southeastern Conference football — not lining up against junior college teams, some 3,000 miles away from his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

After a blue-chip career at Boyd Anderson High School, where he racked up 132 tackles during his senior year, Williams committed to play for Tennessee in 2005. Unable to qualify academically, Williams enrolled at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia for prep school. After it was discovered that some of his credits from a previous high school wouldn’t transfer, Williams was once again ineligible to play for Tennessee in 2006.

Now at CCSF, Williams is determined to reverse his academic trends.

“I just have to keep my head in the books,” said Williams, who found out about CCSF through an extensive search into junior college football programs. “I’m still fully committed to Tennessee and I plan on having all my academics straightened out by the end of this semester.”

Although his dreams of suiting up for an SEC powerhouse are temporarily on hold, Williams has taken advantage of his time at CCSF to improve on and off the field.

“Gerald’s a great athlete, a wonderful kid, and he’s doing everything he can to get his school work straightened out,” CCSF coach George Rush said. “He works everyday at getting better as a person and a football player.”

Williams is on schedule to finish school at CCSF in December and, if everything works out academically, he’ll be eligible to enroll in Tennessee by January.

For the time being, he’s focused on helping CCSF get back to the state championship game. If the Rams, who lost 49-35 to El Camino in last year’s final, do make a return to the title game, it will certainly be largely due to Williams. Through six games, he has already racked up 75 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for a loss, to lead the team in both categories.

In a superhuman performance against Fresno City College on Sept. 15, Williams picked up a staggering 20 tackles — perhaps the lone bright spot for the Rams in an otherwise heartbreaking 19-16 loss, CCSF’s sole defeat this season.

Williams credits his success this season to diligence in the film room, where he spends his time taking notes on his personal performance.

“With film study, I am only looking at my game, so I can see what I specifically need to do to get better,” Williams said. “It helps me pick out some mistakes in my game and, once I see those, I can make the necessary adjustments.”

Niners shock Packers to advance to NFC Championship Game

Late-game blocked punt turned the game around

Niners vs. Packers playoff history brings back memories

The two teams played in three NFC Championship Games back in the 1990s