NCF On The Trail: Chris Williams

Signing day wrap: SEC

February, 5, 2014
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The Southeastern Conference had a strong finish the 2014 recruiting class. Alabama, which received a commitment from four-star outside linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) on Wednesday, finished with the top overall class by a landslide, and seven of the top 10 recruiting classes in the country are in the SEC. Here’s a closer look at some of the top news from around the SEC on national signing day.

Top class

[+] EnlargeRashaan Evans
AP Photo/Butch DillESPN 300 OLB Rashaan Evans, who chose Bama over Auburn, made a great class even better.
There is no question Alabama had the top overall class. The Crimson Tide finished with 27 signees, including 19 ranked in the ESPN 300 and five five-star prospects. In addition to the incredible class Alabama put together leading up to signing day, the Crimson Tide were also able to land Evans, the No. 52 player in the country. Evans chose Alabama over arch-rival and hometown Auburn Tigers.

The Alabama class was led by the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country, Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe), the No. 2-ranked defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and the No. 2-ranked cornerback in the country Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), who is already enrolled.

The SEC West alone had three schools, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M, finish in the top five of the final recruiting team rankings. In all, 13 of the 14 SEC schools finished in the top 40 of the team recruiting rankings.

South Carolina, LSU and Georgia finish strong

South Carolina had arguably the best finish of any class in the SEC. The Gamecocks were able to flip ESPN 300 defensive end Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda) from Florida State and defensive tackle Blake McClain (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) from Nebraska. They were also able to land ESPN 300 defensive backs Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation) and Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King) giving the Gamecocks a very athletic secondary.

If South Carolina was the best, LSU wasn’t far behind. The Tigers were able to land the No. 1 wide receiver in the country Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic). Dupre chose LSU over UCLA, Ole Miss, Alabama and FSU. Valentine had decommitted from three different schools – Louisville, Florida and Miami -- over the course of his recruitment before finally settling on LSU. The Tigers were also able to hang on to defensive end Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine), who had been wavering on his commitment leading up to signing day.

Georgia, meanwhile, added five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), who chose the Bulldogs over LSU, FSU and Florida. They also added four-star wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage). The ESPN 300 wide receiver wasn’t even considering Georgia until earlier this week, but a late offer from the Bulldogs was enough for McKenzie to pull the trigger and sign with Georgia.

Several schools lose commits

Signing day was full of surprises, including several prospects who backed off of their commitments and signed with a different school. Three-star defensive tackle Cory Thomas (McCalla, Ala./McAdory), a long-time Tennessee commit, spurned the Volunteers and signed with Mississippi State. But not all was good news for Mississippi State. Ole Miss was able to steal junior college defensive back Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Holmes CC), the No. 22-ranked player in the ESPN JC 50. The Vols took another hit when three-star offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) unexpectedly signed with Oklahoma. The Volunteers, however, were able to land four-star defensive tackle Michael Sawyers (Nashville/The Ensworth School), and had the No. 5 recruiting class in the country -- one that included 11 players ranked in the ESPN 300.

Quarterback Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) backed off his pledge to FSU and signed with Florida. Offensive tackle Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino) was only a part of Vanderbilt’s class for one short day, but the three-star tackle flipped on Tuesday night and signed with Florida on Wednesday. Four-star Alabama safety commit Chris Williams (Kingsland, Ga./Camden Co.) flipped and signed with UCF because of personal family reasons. Four-star wide receiver DeSean Blair (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) flipped his commitment from Louisville and signed with Missouri.

Vanderbilt able to rebound

The Vanderbilt class may not be filled with four- and five-star prospects, but the job new head coach Derek Mason did to rebuild the Commodores’ class is nothing short of amazing. After James Franklin left to take the head coaching job at Penn State and a string of decommitments followed, Vanderbilt was down to eight verbal commitments. After an impressive few weeks of recruiting the Commodores finished with 22 signees, including 17 prospects ranked three stars or higher.

The class is led by ESPN 300 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) and four-star running back Dallas Rivers (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson). After losing ESPN 300 quarterback Kyle Carta-Samuels to Washington, Vanderbilt was able to flip Pitt quarterback commit Wade Freebeck (Fort Lauderdale, Fla/St. Thomas Aquinas) and former ECU commit Shawn Stankavage (Raleigh, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons).

Bold predictions: SEC 

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
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With less than 24 hours remaining until the craziness that is national signing day, most recruiting classes are already filled up. There are, however, some key questions that need to be answered. Here’s a look at five bold predictions heading into national signing day.

1. Alabama will lose a commit

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
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This was the final weekend before national signing day, and of course, there was a ton of news around the SEC. Vanderbilt added a slew of commitments, as did Alabama and Texas A&M. There were also some key visits and a decommitment from an SEC West school. Here’s a closer look at the latest recruiting news around the SEC.

Biggest commitments: After suffering 11 decommitments after coach James Franklin left for Penn State, Vanderbilt was in desperate need of a big recruiting weekend, and it finally got it.


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DT Chris Williams selects Ole Miss

August, 2, 2013
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The Rebels strengthened their defensive front Thursday grabbing a pledge from four-star defensive tackle Chris Williams (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), according to multiple reports.

Williams a 6-foot-1, 283-pound prospect, selected Ole Miss over scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. Auburn, Clemson and Georgia showed interest.

He is the 20th member of Ole Miss’ No. 15-rated recruiting class.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When ESPN 300 safeties C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian) and Laurence 'Hootie' Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) competed at Alabama’s camp last month, it was no accident that the two were placed on the same 7-on-7 team or that they worked out back-to-back in the same drills. They were around each other all week.

The UA staff strategically placed the two prospects together to form a bond that could potentially lead to a package deal for the Crimson Tide. And why not? The two are perfect complements to one another in the secondary.


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TYRONE, Ga. – Unless a new offer comes along in the next three months, four-star prospect Chris Williams (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) could be the next highly rated defensive lineman from the Peach State headed to play for Hugh Freeze.


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videoMONTGOMERY, Ala. -- As Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) picked up scholarship offer after scholarship offer, he continued to wait for one from the University of Alabama. Finally, the Crimson Tide offered the ESPN Watch List linebacker in February, and it completely changed his recruitment.

When Hamilton sat in his high school’s auditorium Wednesday with three hats in front of him, it was an easy decision. After reaching for each hat, he pulled an Alabama hat and gloves out of a bag, signifying his commitment to the Tide.

“It was just the program,” Hamilton said. “It’s a great program. Coach [Nick] Saban, he’s a great coach. They’re known for winning championships. You know they’re going to be in a BCS bowl every year. I just love Alabama.

“Coach [Kirby] Smart and I, we have a great relationship. We’ve been talking on and on. I’ll be ready to play for them and try to help them compete so we can win national championships.”

The other two hats on the table belonged to Auburn and Tennessee. Hamilton, who had over 25 offers, made two late visits to Auburn, but it wasn’t enough to sway the in-state star.

“It was real hard,” he said. “There were a lot of great schools out there who gave me opportunities. Auburn is right down the road. I have a teammate who signed with them, but at the end of the day, my heart was with Alabama and I had to do what’s best for me and my family. It was a business decision.”

Hamilton becomes the Tide’s fourth commitment for 2014, joining running back Bo Scarbrough, and defensive backs Kalvaraz Bessent and Chris Williams in the class. The Carver High School linebacker plans to graduate early and enroll at UA in January.

“Whenever you can be on the weight program for a whole semester in front of everybody else, know the playbook, learn the playbook, it’s worth it,” Hamilton said. “I saw that with my friend Dee Milliner. He went in there in January. He started as a freshman. He was an All-American. Now he’s about to get drafted in the top five.”

Milliner, a former Alabama cornerback, was on hand for Hamilton’s commitment. He flew back from a meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs to attend the event.

RN Top 10: Atlanta NFTC 

April, 15, 2013
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The RN Top 10 will appear throughout the camp and combine season and rank prospects based strictly on their on-field performance at that particular event. It does not reflect what their overall prospect ranking will be when the 2014 rankings are unveiled this spring.

BUFORD, Ga. – With 276 players taking part in the Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp on Saturday, there were dozens of prospects in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 classes who had already been offered by FBS programs. Six of the participants were awarded invitations to the The Opening later the summer.

10. Terronne Prescod
Lithonia (Ga.) Columbia |OG|6-foot-4, 320 pounds


The offensive linemen at the Atlanta NFTC were not an overly impressive group, but Prescod stood out, not just because of his hairstyle. He locked up and drove back multiple defensive tackles and showed an impressive base.

Prescod is approaching 10 offers, and has scholarship opportunities with Missouri, Ole Miss and Virginia. At the moment, Prescod says Missouri is standing out. Watch out for Auburn if they offer, as they seem to be the school he feels most at home with right now.

Craig Haubert’s take: “Prescod did a nice job in the offensive line group that was not among the strongest at the NFTC this year. He showed good bend and strong punch and he has outstanding size, both in height and bulk.”


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Ohio State is a hit in Tyrone, Ga.

At least it is with Sandy Creek High School wide receiver ESPN Watch List junior Demarre Kitt and his teammate, defensive tackle Chris Williams.

Both were on hand over the weekend for a three-day unofficial visit to Columbus, Ohio, and both were impressed.


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Weekly commitment update 

March, 22, 2013
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ACC
Duke
Trip McNeil OT Mocksville, N.C./Davie County
HT: 6-foot-5 WT: 290 pounds

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama landed another commitment on Tuesday when 2014 safety Chris Williams (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County) announced his verbal pledge to the Crimson Tide via Twitter.

[+] EnlargeWilliams
Miller Safrit/Under ArmourChris Williams joined high school teammate Kalvaraz Bessent as an Alabama commit.
First, he had to get his mother’s blessing.

“Me and my mom sat down and talked about, making sure I went to the place that I wanted to go,” Williams said. “The atmosphere is nice, the weight room, the practice facilities, the game field, the coaches, everything. It’s just right.”

It wasn’t too difficult to sell his mother, Cassandra Williams, on Alabama. She grew up in Wetumpka, Ala., and has always pulled for the Tide. Still, she had to make sure that’s where her son really wanted to go and that he wasn’t doing it for her sake.

“I was sitting on the coach, and he came in and said, ‘Mom, I want to commit to Alabama. I said, ‘no you don’t. You just know I like them. That’s why you’re doing it. Don’t do it for me. You have to do it for yourself.’ He was like, ‘Mom, this is what I want to do.’

“It was great for me because I’m an Alabama fan. I’m very proud.”

After he told his mother, Williams reached out to his high school teammate, cornerback Kalvaraz Bessent, who committed to Alabama last week. The two visited Tuscaloosa together last month for the Tide’s junior day.

“Me and him, we’ve got a good relationship,” Bessent said. “We’ve been playing football together since middle school. I’m really excited about it. I think we can do good together, push each other harder and make each other better.”

Bessent says he was the one who ultimately convinced his teammate to pick Alabama. Williams had offers from Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ohio State and Ole Miss, but it came down to Alabama and Florida State.

“He was saying Florida State, Florida State, Florida State, but I was telling him Alabama, Alabama,” Bessent said. “I kind of convinced him to go because he’s like a little brother to me. We’re both good athletes, and it will be good for us to go to the same school.”

It was the type of package deal the UA coaching staff was looking for. Secondary was a need for the Tide in 2014, and both players fill that need -- Bessent at cornerback and now the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Williams at safety. The two know how to play off each other.

“If we’re in red, cover 3, that means we’re both going to cover deep, so we have to have each other’s back,” Williams said. “In cover 2, I have to have his back on the deep route.”

“We celebrate a lot,” Bessent said. “I know if I make a mistake, he’s got my back, and I’ve pretty much got his back.”

The two Peach State commitments join ESPN Watch List athlete Bo Scarbrough (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Northridge) in Alabama’s 2014 class. Williams is the first safety to commit to the Tide since Landon Collins in the 2012 class.

Georgia DT Williams has tentative top 5 

March, 18, 2013
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Chris Williams hasn't released his official list of finalists. However, he was willing to offer a strong hint as to which direction his recruitment is going.


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Ohio State offers another Georgia DT 

February, 13, 2013
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Be it ever so humble, there’s something sweet about a Peach.

Urban Meyer once again hit up a Georgia athlete from the Class of 2014 with an offer.


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Two stand out for Chris Williams 

December, 30, 2012
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ATLANTA -- Defensive lineman Chris Williams (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) will end up with more than the two offers he currently holds from Ole Miss and Texas A&M, but there was no greater feeling than when he received that first scholarship offer from the Rebels early in his junior season.

[+] EnlargeChris Williams
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comTyrone, Ga., junior defensive tackle Chris Williams is seeing plenty of interest pick up in his recruitment.
“It was amazing,” Williams said. “It was just a dream come true. They offered me on the phone, and he asked me how I felt about it. I told him I was speechless because it was random. It just came out of nowhere.”

Whether or not Ole Miss was on his radar before, it is now. The Rebels will always be in consideration because they were the first school to offer.

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OSU Recruiting: A look back at the week 

December, 24, 2012
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Ohio State didn’t get another commit out of the class of 2013, but that didn’t mean the Buckeyes went into the dead period without continuing to amp up efforts to land some big names.

From recruits scheduling visits to others setting announcement dates, here’s a look at how things shook out last week.

Ohio State began the week just hours after hearing Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) and Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) were set to announce their college choices at their respective all-star games. The Buckeyes also found out Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) put them in his top eight.

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