- William Wilkerson, RecruitingNation
Hugh Freeze, in what seems like the blink of an eye, has made Ole Miss an attractive destination for recruits across the country.
No better proof of that can be found than what happened Thursday, when the Rebels picked up a commitment from Laquon Treadwell, the nation's No. 1 receiver, who resides in Illinois.
It speaks to the talent level of 2015 running back Rawleigh Williams III (Dallas/Bishop Lynch) that Freeze and his staff have already offered. And not only have they offered; the Rebels did so during spring practice of his freshman year, which makes him one of the first offers of the Freeze era.
“Coach [Maurice] Harris, the tight ends coach, came down to visit and introduced himself to me and told me to call him later that night,” Williams said. “I called him that night and he just talked about how much he loved the film and how much the coaches loved it. Two minutes into the conversation he told me he had already called up Coach Freeze and the running back coach and that they were going to offer me a scholarship. It was a shock.”
It remains Williams’ only offer but it’s just a matter of time before other schools follow suit. He has established himself as one of the top 2015 running backs in the state.
At 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds, Williams, who runs a 4.56 40-yard dash, rushed 191 times for 1,191 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns in 2012. He also caught 11 passes for 137 yards and three scores for a Bishop Lynch team that lost in the TAPPS semifinals.
It was a big improvement from a freshman campaign in which he rushed for a commendable 251 yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries.
One of the top schools showing interest in William right now is the team he grew up rooting for: Texas.
“I’ve always been a Texas fan,” he said. “I think when the Vince Young era started I loved them ever since then. Now that the recruiting process has started I have to stray away from being a fan and keep all my options open. But I still root for Texas.”
Bruce Chambers, the Longhorns’ recruiting coordinator, stopped by on two occasions during Williams' freshman season. Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite came to the school this season.
“It was really brief but he got me out of class and introduced himself to me,” Williams said of Applewhite.
The Longhorns have already invited Williams to a game. He attended Texas’ game against Baylor, at which he met 2013 commit Jake Raulerson.
“He’s taken me under his wing,” Williams said. “Also [Ole Miss commitment] Christian Morgan from [Plano, Texas] Prestonwood. We met at the end of the season and have been close ever since.”
Williams looks at guys like Raulerson and Morgan as his “big brothers,” players whom he looks up to and also wants to join in the college ranks one day.
“It’s so exciting because I always say that I am a fan first,” he said. “And I have all my friends, I call them my ‘big brothers,’ that are going to big places like Kansas State, Texas, [Texas] A&M. For that to happen to me is a dream come true.”
Williams, who patterns his game after former Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball, knows that he has stay humble and rely on the work ethic that has gotten him to this point to lead him toward that goal of meeting his big brothers.
“I try and pride myself off my work ethic so I know the offers are going to come,” said Williams, whose father was a linebacker for Austin College. “I can never be complacent with any part of my game. I need to get bigger, faster, stronger and get better at watching game film as well.”
Williams said he couldn’t name all the schools that have contacted him if he tried. He plans on hitting up as many camps this summer as possible, which will undoubtedly include a stop in Austin.