ATHENS — You might not know by looking at him now, but football was never really Javon Wims’ game. And yet it seemed that everyone in his life knew that it was his game, except for him.
As a kid growing up Wims played football in Miami Gardens, Fla., but basketball took priority. So much so that when Wims got to high school he gave up football to specifically focus on basketball.
“I only played football my senior year,” Wims said. “I had been playing basketball my whole life.”
So he gravitated more towards hoops, but football was always a major part of his life. During his little league football days, Wims’ mother, Cleola Mosely, gave him his nickname of “Juice,” a nickname he still goes by today at Georgia.
“I remember her saying, “You got to go out there and play like you got the juice,’ ” Wims said. “It stuck to me.”
Even though the football nickname stuck, the game itself didn’t. And that focus on basketball would have likely continued had Wims not received a little tough love from his father, Roy Wims.
“My dad kind of forced me to go back. I wasn’t going to play it but he forced me to do it and I’m glad he did,” Wims said, with a laugh. “He didn’t physically force me. But he gave me some encouragement to go out there.”
In Wims’ words, his father told him not “to leave any stones unturned, you never know what could happen.”
Now in his second year with Georgia it seems that Roy Wims was right all those years ago. Two games into the 2017 season, Wims is Georgia’s leading receiver with 116 receiving yards on five catches.
This is something that Roy Wims saw in his son long before he himself did.
“He just told me something that stuck with me,” Wims said. “[He said] that there are a lot of 6-4 point guards out there that do everything that you do, but there are not a lot of 6-4 receivers that can do what you can do.”
This natural talent at wide receiver was something that others saw in Wims too, even at 12 years old.
Mario Perez of American Heritage High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., coached Wims at that young age and could see from the beginning that Wims could be an asset later on.
“Why did I believe in Javon? First of all he’s a great kid,” Perez told DawgNation reporter Chip Towers for a story last year. “The second thing was I got to coach him when he was 12 years old. Go to You Tube. Search for Lauderdale-PPO scrimmage. Watch the plays he made as a 12-year-old. You’ll see that and say what 12-year-old does that?”
That same talent later took him to Hinds Junior College. There, Wims said that he learned important fundamentals from his wide receiver coach Dwike Wilson that would later bring him to Georgia.
“The coaches did a very good job there developing me at JUCO, especially my position coach, Coach Wilson, he did an outstanding job with everything that he instilled in me,” Wims said. “Coaches here just brought it out in me and picked up where he left off.”
Mississippi was a huge adjustment for Wims, but ultimately he needed the experience before coming to Georgia.
“I stepped out the door and I was like, ‘I don’t know where I’m at. I’m in the middle of fields and cows,’ ” Wims said. “I didn’t know where I was at but at the same time I’m glad that happened because I learned a lot about myself.”
Now far removed from his days in Miami and Mississippi, Wims finds himself finally transforming into the wide receiver that everyone always saw in him growing up. And when Georgia faced Notre Dame last Saturday, it was something that Wims wanted to show off with a 31-yard reception when Georgia needed it most.
Javon finally got the “Juice” that his mom wanted.
“That was a ‘do-what-the-team-needs’ play,” Wims said. “We needed it and I am glad that it was going to give us momentum, but that was a Juice play.”