First-place finishes in the 100 and 200-meter dashes at July’s USA Track and Field Junior Olympics endure as two lofty peaks in Forest Park senior Mustaqeem Williams’s running career.
But it was another race that day at North Carolina A&T University that ultimately led the sprinter to consider a future at Florida State, where he committed to Thursday.
After Williams anchored a runner-up finish in the 4×100 relays, Seminoles sprints and hurdles coach Brandon Hon approached Williams’s relay teammate and fellow Forest Park Bruin, Ricky Morgan, who eventually committed to run at Southern California.
At the time, Williams listened with interest but didn’t inject himself into the conversation.
“I was just in the back, because at the time Florida State wasn’t on my list,” Williams said. “But later, I just gave it a shot.”
The 2012-2013 indoor track All-Met athlete of the year followed up by phone and eventually chatted with Seminoles assistant head coach Ken Harnden.
For Williams — who plans to study Kinesiology — the decision came down to three schools: Florida State, Tennessee, and LSU. Of the three, only the Volunteers promised Williams — an honorable mention All-Met defensive back — an opportunity in both track and football.
Despite a lifelong dream of playing college football, Williams realized the pitfalls he’d face as a two-sport hopeful.
“I think it would be a tough job doing football and doing track and trying to keep up the academics and actually live the college life like I want to,” Williams said.
Another factor for Williams is the loaded recruiting class he’ll join down in Tallahassee. The Sunshine State’s own Kendal Williams is another nationally ranked sprinter with numbers on par with Williams.
“I feel like, by my going to Florida State, it’s going to shock the whole country,” Williams said. “Because you’ve got the top three sprinters in the country right now going there.”
With two seasons of high school track — indoor and outdoor — remaining before his prep career draws to a close, Williams wants to become the first high school athlete to run the 100 meters in less than 10 seconds. To do so, he’ll have to shave more than half a second from the 10.52 mark he posted while dominating the Virginia AAA meet in June.
He knows his debut on the national stage will be a different game entirely.
“There’s some things that I’m going to have to adjust to, like winning and losing,” Williams said.