James Smith-Williams

James Smith-Williams


At UNRIVALED, we introduce sports fans to the pro athletes they haven’t heard enough about. You’ll hear from rising and overshadowed athletes who share their journey to becoming pros and their unique passions outside of their sport.

This Inside the Jersey features James Smith-Williams, a defensive end for the Washington Football Team. James is a rookie for Washington who is more than just a football player. Behind the scenes, he is a kid from North Carolina who played college football at NC State, had multiple internships at IBM in robotics and is passionate about making an impact off the field, including being a player ambassador for SetTheExpectation, an organization to combat physical and sexual violence. Have you heard his story?

Check out the Q&A with James and don’t forget to listen to the podcast:

UNRIVALED:If you could be cast in a movie role, what role would you want to be cast in?

JSW: Maybe like an action star in the Expendables or something. They’re really cool. Just pretend to be that type of person for a day.

UNRIVALED: What is the vacation spot that you cannot wait to revisit?

JSW: My favorite place I’ve ever been to – the Dominican Republic. It was just beautiful. You have rainforest the beach. But within the United States, definitely San Diego. It’s like 80 degree weather every day. You can’t be beat it.

UNRIVALED: What is the meal that you request most often when you go home?

JSW: I think for me, when I go back home, it’s a fried pork chop, collard greens…good home cooking.

UNRIVALED: What is your favorite thing to do when you get some downtime?

JSW: Its actually to smoke meat on the grill at home. I have a Traeger and a smoke box and I’ll put some ribs on for 12 hours. I really enjoy cooking.

UNRIVALED: Do you have a go-to seasoning that you use?

JSW: I make my own. I get a feel for what I want that day; do I want my food spicy or do I want something sweeter. And then I try and pair it with the meat and the sides.

UNRIVALED: Okay, so what is your most recent splurge? Now, this could be food-related or it could be a recent personal purchase.

JSW: So, I’m obsessed with shoes. I have a collection that I’m very proud of. So that’s been my splurge purchases recently, even though we can’t go anywhere because of COVID-19 Outside of that I’ve been saving pretty well.

UNRIVALED: Now we’re going to head onto the field. What ritual or routine has to take place before every game?

JSW: I’m not super into rituals or superstitions but I have one thing I do before every game and I listen to a podcast on my ride over to the game. I think music kind of gets me a little too hyped up and the podcast keeps me nice and relaxed and calm, ready to play.

UNRIVALED: What’s the podcast?

JSW: It’s Small Town Murder and I really recommend it! It’s about true crime in small towns with a little bit of comedy.

UNRIVALED: Which NFL team did you cheer for growing up?

JSW: I was a Carolina Panthers fan, being I’m from North Carolina. That’s who I grew up rooting for.

UNRIVALED: Which coach or teacher still keeps in contact with you on a regular basis?

JSW: Actually, most of my high school coaches, we still talk, maybe, once a week. My position coach in college too. So, I’ve been pretty blessed that all of my coaches have pretty much kept in contact with me and I have relationships with all of them.

UNRIVALED: If you were not a professional athlete, what career field would we find you in?

JSW: I would probably be at IBM. I’ve interned there twice. It was a really cool experience working on some stuff with robotics.

UNRIVALED: What is the service or product that has changed your life at home?

JSW: I have to give it to the Traeger. I mean, it’s made me fall in love with cooking, so I gave it to Traeger.


Photo Credits:

ACC, James Smith-Williams & Family, NC State University, Priority Sports,