Homewood QB leaves legacy, looks toward future
By Gary Lloyd
HOMEWOOD – Larkin Williams didn’t always want to play football, but now the Homewood High School senior quarterback is pushing to keep it as part of his life as college nears.
Homewood has not had an All-State quarterback since Austin Hubbard in 2005, the last time the Patriots won a state championship. A case can be made for Williams.
Williams, a two-year starter for the Patriots, passed for 2,200 yards and 18 touchdowns this season against just six interceptions. He rushed for three touchdowns. For his career, Williams amassed 5,300 total yards and 43 scores, 38 of which came through the air.
Pinson Valley’s Bo Nix will almost certainly be the All-State first-team quarterback in Class 6A, but past that there is some competition for the second- and third-teamers. Clay-Chalkville’s Willie Miller is a stud. Athens signal-caller Logan Smothers is heading to play at Nebraska. Saraland’s Brett Nezat and Opelika’s Cade Blackmon are contenders, too.
Williams doesn’t seem to get as much talk around the state, but he deserves it. Homewood went 20-5 over the last two seasons, reaching the quarterfinals this season, the first time in twelve seasons. His statistics don’t necessarily blow you away, but he’s no pushover, either. He makes big plays. He takes what the defense gives him. He manages. He leads. He wins.
“Great teammate and also a great leader,” said Homewood defensive back Kam Gaines. “Passionate about the game. High football IQ. Just an overall great athlete. Great guy. Very outgoing and very positive guy. Always encouraging us to do better on and off the field. Someone you would love to have around. I’m hoping the best for him. I’m going to miss him when he leaves.”
Williams has been one to frequently speak to media members after Homewood games, and not because he seeks attention. Far from it, actually. He is a leader and comfortable speaking publicly.
“I’ve been raised by both of my parents to speak with good manners and not be ashamed or shy when speaking publicly, and to always voice your opinions with confidence,” Williams said. “I also have done a good bit of public speaking with a teacher I had in 10th grade (Ms. Snell), which really seemed to help me in that regard. I’d say most of it just comes from practice in the shower, though.”
Practicing is not uncommon to Williams, who has played football since the fourth grade. Because he was a big kid, he played linebacker and tight end until sixth grade, when, because of his strong arm in baseball, he was moved to quarterback. Competition surely helped Williams in those formative years. His brother, Faulkner, played basketball at Homewood. His other brother, Fulton, is a nine-time state champion in cross country and track.
Williams thought his path would follow those of his brothers.
“One thing unique about me is that I didn’t always want to play football,” Williams said. “When my brother was in high school and was winning state championships for track, I always thought that was going to be my future. My oldest brother and I are naturally good runners and I have never trained a day in my life for track but still seem to always be ahead of others in that category. Whenever we finish summer workouts in football, we always run the mile, after a full practice and workout, I would consistently hit mid five minutes but as we ran them more, I got better and for my last summer workout mile I clocked a 4:36-minute mile.”
Right now, Williams is looking to play college football. He holds scholarship offers from Centre (Ky.) College, Belhaven (Miss.) University, Birmingham-Southern College, and Millsaps (Miss.) College. Recruiting is not something Williams focused much on during his high school career, something he somewhat regrets, in hindsight.
“I’ve recently learned that life is too short to live with regrets,” he said. “It’s been tough because I’m not a guy who wants to put stuff out there like ‘Look at me’ or anything like that, but I started sending a good bit of emails prior to my senior year once I had some decent junior year film. I’ve learned a lot about the recruiting circuit and getting my name out there and I try as hard as I can to put myself in a situation to get my name out there but still be humble. So as my senior year comes to a close, I’ve been more adamant about recruiting and such because I don’t want to miss an opportunity I could’ve had if I had tried a little harder.”
There were certainly moments this season that prove Williams is a college football player. Against Carver High School, after leaving the game with a foot injury, he returned in the second half, his foot heavily taped, and led Homewood on a 12-play, 99-yard drive capped by his own one-yard touchdown run. He showed toughness, and a gritty Patriots squad won, 27-13. Williams tore a ligament in his foot that night and managed to play, and play well, in four of Homewood’s final five games. John Firnberg, a Homewood defensive end, has seen Williams’ toughness since the two were sophomores, when Williams earned some spot starts.
“The thing I can mainly tell you is that he is by far the most motivational teammate I have ever had, he’s always encouraging everyone all the time, up and down the sideline trying to keep spirits up,” Firnberg said. “Best story had to be when we played Hueytown our sophomore year, and he took an absolute beating. He actually had to get stitches, but he didn’t get upset or even act like he was hurt, and that’s when I knew he was the right guy to lead this program and look what we did after that year: a 20-5 record and a region title.”
Williams pointed to three coaches in particular – Keith Brown, Heath Bruner, and David Jones – that helped him throughout his career.
“If I wanted to list out every person who has helped me in my career this would be multiple pages long,” he said.
Williams hopes to find a university that fits his personality and aspirations. He would like to participate in student government.
“My leadership skills come from an early age and haven’t stopped growing since then,” Williams said. “I always claimed I was a leader by example but never wanted to speak it much on the topic growing up. My sophomore year when I was put into a small role as a QB it was weird for me to try to lead guys who were three years older than me, especially them being most of my brothers’ friends. I learned a lot about leadership once I got my full-time role junior year and settled into the role nicely as a leader.”
Wherever Williams winds up – a short drive away at Birmingham-Southern, across the state line in Mississippi, north into Kentucky, or elsewhere – he will be taking a piece of Homewood with him.
“Homewood has been a great deal of help to me,” he said. “I cannot thank my coaches enough for all the help they have given to me. They care about their students/players as people and want to make us not only into better players but better people.”