One by one, they kept coming. J.J. Williamson had finished spring drills as the No. 1 quarterback, but Hampton University coach Connell Maynor made it clear that nothing was in ink.
Maynor recruited a Bowl Subdivision transfer, and when he left the team, the coach brought in another. He signed a junior-college prospect and a true freshman, both of whom would be in the mix.

But Williamson, supposedly too small and unathletic, held them off — at least for now. And two years after his career game on the same field, he will get the start against Old Dominion Saturday at Ballard Stadium.
“I came out there and competed each and every day,” Williamson said. “Coach told me it was going to be a competition, and I was prepared for it. I wanted to make sure the offense was flowing smoothly and everybody was working together.

I don’t shy away from competition. I understand it’s a business and (coaches) try to bring people in to compete for the job and be the best team you can. All I can control is myself (by) doing what I can on the field every time I step out there.”

When he was a junior at Oscar Smith High, Williamson had to fight off two transfers to win the job. In two seasons as the Tigers’ No. 1 quarterback, he passed for 6,306 yards and 75 touchdowns. He led Oscar Smith to a 25-3 record and the 2011 Group AAA Division 6 state championship.

As a true freshman at HU, he backed up Travis Champion and got one start, a homecoming win over Savannah State. As a sophomore, he started five games and threw for 676 yards, with five touchdowns.

Williamson started the 2014 season opener and threw for a school-record 407 yards in a loss at Old Dominion. The following week, he torched William and Mary for 335 yards.

Two weeks in, he was completing 70 percent of his throws for 742 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. But it was downhill from there. After four mediocre performances, he was benched.

Then came August 2015, when he sustained a hip labral tear in practice. He missed the entire season while the Pirates were led by Virginia transfer David Watford.

After a solid spring, Williamson only helped himself in preseason. Maynor declared him the starter and Brandon Cox, a transfer from Utah, the backup.

“He did what he was supposed to do,” Maynor said of Williamson. “I’m looking for a quarterback who can move the chains, play the position and get us out of bad plays. That’s what J.J. brings. … And that’s why he beat everybody out.

“He’s a true quarterback. He doesn’t have the biggest arm, he doesn’t have the greatest athletic arm, but he’s a quarterback.”