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RB Damien Williams bonds with 'Cali Trio'

1/24/2012

It is easy to get lost in the shuffle at a junior college. Recruits can go about their business and not be bothered at school.

But if you’re coming to Oklahoma, you better be ready to be the center of attention. For juco running back Damien Williams (San Diego/Arizona Western College), he learned all about the OU experience last weekend on his official visit.

“The fans, wow, I love the fans out there,” Williams said. “Everybody knew who I was. In San Diego and Yuma [Ariz.], it’s not like that at all. I can tell that Sooner fans really take their football seriously.

“I’ve never experienced something where everywhere I went, people knew who I was and what my story was. It surprised me.”

What shouldn’t be a surprise is why the Sooners are so aggressive in trying to get Williams. A former Arizona State commit, Williams rushed for 1,931 yards and 26 touchdowns last season.

He has visited Arkansas and Arizona State, but he had a feeling of being at his home away from home at OU because of the “Cali trio” of Brennan Clay, Kenny Stills and Tony Jefferson.

Clay and Williams played at rival high schools in the San Diego area, and Jefferson once again was asked to host a top recruit.

“It was great being back with those guys,” Williams said. “But it’s not about them being there, it’s about what they’re doing there.

“They’re the San Diego kids that are setting the bar at OU. I want to come in and set the bar even higher.”

The transfer of former Sooners running back Brandon Williams to Texas A&M got the ball rolling between Williams and OU running backs coach Cale Gundy. Williams said it was a pleasant surprise when Gundy reached out to him in December.

In the short time, he said he has developed a good relationship with his potential position coach.

“I like him a lot. What I really like about him is how competitive he is,” Williams said. “He’ll compete with me all the time. I like that type of challenge.”

Though the Sooners already have three running back commits, Williams is not an afterthought. It might take some time for three-star backs Daniel Brooks (Rockdale, Texas/Rockdale) and David Smith (Midlothian, Ill./Bremen) to get adjusted to the college level, but Williams will be expected to play once he steps on campus.

To go with his running ability, Arizona Western coach Tom Minnick said whoever gets Williams is getting an all-around back.

“He wasn’t just our best running back, he was probably our best receiver, too,” Minnick said. “He has great hands and catch out of the backfield. I don’t remember him dropping one ball this season.

“Had he played more in the second half of some of our blowouts wins, I definitely think he could have set some junior college records.”

Williams is expected to visit Texas Tech this weekend and then make his decision in the following days between Oklahoma, Arizona State and Texas Tech.