The spotlight is still a bit much for Jalen Rivers and Chantz Williams to take in, but there’s no avoiding it now.
Rivers and Williams became just the second and third Oakleaf players to earn All-American honors on Friday when they were presented with their honorary jerseys for the 2020 Under Armour All-American Game. The game is Jan. 2, 2020 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Their moment being honored in front of friends, family and Oakleaf students was humbling for two of the country’s top-rated recruits. The duo, both committed to the University of Miami, are on track to graduate and enroll early with the Hurricanes.
Being the center of attention still requires some getting used to for both players.
“If you would ask our family, they would say I would like the attention more than Jalen,” Williams said. “It is quite odd when you get individual honors because we know we both put in the work together to get to where we’re at. We’re both very grateful and blessed.”
Rivers, an offensive tackle who is ESPN’s No. 35 overall player in the nation, is far more reserved than Williams, a pass rushing edge bender who is ranked 57th in the country by the recruiting service.
Rivers said that Williams’ personality helped him open up over the years and loosen him up for moments like Friday’s. On the field, going against one of the best pass rushers in the country daily helped Rivers prepare for the next level.
“It is overpowering [the attention]. I get really, I don’t really like stuff like this, but I’m blessed to have it. I’m just not that all-on-me, attention kind of guy,” Rivers said. “As a person, he has pushed me, taught me to come out my shell, be myself. I thank him a lot for that.”
Williams broke his right arm in the first quarter of an Oct. 11 game against Mandarin and missed the rest of the season. He said that he’ll get his cast removed next week.
“I’m very humbled and grateful to be in this position,” Williams said. “Leaving early is going to be kind of hard for me to say goodbye to the community but I think I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.”
Rivers and Williams join former Knights linebacker Shaq Quarterman as the only All-American selections from Oakleaf. Quarterman, now a senior at Miami, was an Army All-American as a senior in 2015.
“I’ll remember my coaches, teammates, all the people that supported me,” Rivers said. “I would thank them a tremendous amount because they helped me along the way.”