Browning's friendship with Alabama right tackle Jonah Williams has been one of the more interesting storylines in the buildup to their national semifinal showdown.

Share story

ATLANTA — The call came in from Nick Saban, and the hallways at Folsom High School were suddenly abuzz.

Component post 10247638 could not be found.

As he went to take the call from the Alabama coach, Jake Browning hardly broke stride, as his Folsom teammate, Jonah Williams, recalled.

“I remember that,” Williams said Thursday at Peach Bowl Media Day. “He was going to take a call from Coach Saban and I was passing him in the hallways, and (Browning’s) step-brother is a big Auburn fan and he would talk to me because my mom went to Auburn. …

“So he came and grabbed me and said, ‘Jake’s going to talk to Nick Saban!’ And I was like, ‘Dude, that’s so cool!’ And he was like, ‘No, you’re supposed to be mad at him.’ But I was like, ‘That’s so wild!’ So I remember that being pretty neat.”

No, Williams said, Browning didn’t make a big deal about being recruited by the most successful coach in college football.

“(Browning) is definitely a pretty blasé guy,” Williams said. “It could’ve been some tiny school and he would’ve treated it the same way.”

Browning, of course, is now the star quarterback for the No. 4 Washington Huskies, who will make their College Football Playoff debut Saturday against No. 1 Alabama in the Peach Bowl. Williams is now Alabama’s starting right tackle as a true freshman, and their friendship has been one of the more interesting storylines in the buildup to their national semifinal showdown.

In 2014, their lone high-school season together, Browning and Williams helped Folsom win a California state championship. Browning threw 229 touchdown passes in three seasons at Folsom, a national record, including 91 his senior season, also a national record.

“I’m not surprised at all by what he’s doing now,” Williams said. “He’s obviously really humble. He was a good friend and mentor for me. I’ve been rooting for him ever since he got to college. I really didn’t expect to be playing him like this, but I’m rooting for him.”

As Williams saw up close at Folsom, the northern California football powerhouse, Browning didn’t seek attention, didn’t needed the big-time coaches salivating over him. Didn’t then, doesn’t now.

Hate is a strong word. Probably too strong to describe Browning’s feelings about the spotlight, about having to do mandatory media interviews this week.

“This isn’t my thing,” he said Thursday, “but it doesn’t mean that I hate it.”

Well, he’s told, you look like you’re hating this.

He chuckled. “I understand this is part of getting to big games,” he said. “There’s going to be more media stuff, which is fine. But I’m not going to be a guy that enjoys every second of it, like this is the highlight of my week. The highlight of my week is going to be playing the game.”

Perfect is a strong word, too. Probably too strong to describe what Browning has to be to give his team a chance at pulling off an upset no one east of Issaquah believes can happen.

He certainly needs to play well, and perhaps more importantly UW’s offensive line needs to be play well in front of him. Easier said than done against the nation’s best defense — a defense Browning and the Huskies have heard all about during press-conference queries this week.

“I think after awhile if you ask anybody enough about, ‘How great is your opponent?’ — yeah, they’re good,” Browning said. “They’re the No. 1 team in the nation. They’re playing in the Peach Bowl. They’ve earned that, just like we have. They’re good, but not to demean them but I’m just kind of over talking about how great they are. There’s only so many ways you can say: ‘Yeah, they’re good.’ I think we all kind of know that.”

Williams knows. He practices often against Alabama’s starting defense, and had a message for Browning.

“He’s a pretty level-headed guy,” Williams told reporters Thursday, “but there’s a storm coming.”