NCF On The Trail: Preston Williams

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

December, 2, 2014
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There were some big games and a bunch of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. There was a big commitment, some coaching changes and key visitors for rivalry weekend. Here's a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.

UA jersey tour: WR Preston Williams

September, 19, 2014
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HAMPTON, Ga. -- ESPN 300 wide receiver and Tennessee commitment Preston Williams was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Friday afternoon.

Williams understands the magnitude of this honor for his school and community, but is balancing the numerous accolades with a laser focus on his senior season at Lovejoy High.

"I mean, it’s really big," Williams said. "...Right now, we are focused on the season and the road to the dome and trying to win a state championship. It’s big, but right now we are focused as a team on this season."

Lovejoy head coach Edgar Carson has had a front-row seat to watch Williams not only grow as a player, but as a person.

"I came here when Preston was a freshman. He was a raw athlete and you could see the talent, but he has continued to grow. I think running track has helped him, as well as playing other sports," Carson said. "He has grown on the football field, but has also grown off the football field, too. Preston is a different guy. He's into modeling, he's into fashion and he markets himself. He gets along with his teammates well, and gets along with all types of kids real well. You might see him sitting at a table with all types of kids, he takes to everyone and is good for this school."

Williams committed to Tennessee one year ago this Sunday, and has remained solid in his pledge to the Volunteers even though programs such as Georgia, Florida and Auburn have continued to try their best to chip away at Williams’ verbal pledge.

Seven questions with Preston Williams

Who is one player you are looking forward to competing against?

Williams: I’ve pretty much seen them all. They are all good athletes, and we are all there for a reason. I’m not going to sit here and call out anybody, but I think people should be wanting to go against me. I’m dangerous. I’m underrated. There isn’t anybody I’m really looking for.

If you were to start a team with any other player in your class, who would it be and why?

Williams: My boy Kahlil [McKenzie]. He’s a great guy. We can run a team together. He can run a defense, and I can run the offense. We would make a really good team.

Who is the best player to ever play in the Under Armour game that you know of?

Williams: Probably Julio [Jones]. He’s a jack-of-all-trades man. He’s physical, he’s big and he’s fast. Alabama probably could have got him the ball more, because he’s great.

What is your earliest football memory?

Williams: Wearing number 65 and playing running back. I was probably six years old. It was crazy. I was more of a baseball freak. I didn’t start loving football until middle school really.

Which football player did you idolize or want to be like when you were a kid?

Williams: I always thought I was Peyton Manning. I can throw, I mean I think I could have played quarterback because of baseball. Peyton Manning has always been my favorite quarterback.

What number do you wear and why?

Williams:I wear number 11. The reason is because 1-on-1, I’m the most dangerous.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Williams: I don’t even know. I think everybody knows everything about me. People think that I’m going to flip, or go to Alabama a lot and will end up there. I don’t know why people think that.

SEC recruiting scorecard

June, 6, 2014
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College football doesn't have an early signing period, yet, but that doesn't mean we can't get an early start on some recruiting news.

As of Friday, the SEC has seven teams ranking within the top 15 of the ESPN's RecruitingNation team rankings. Five of those teams -- Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, LSU and Tennessee -- are ranked inside the top 10. Alabama, which has 18 verbal commitments (16 ESPN 300 members), is No. 1, while Texas A&M (13 verbal commits/nine ESPN 300 members) is ranked second.

Here's a complete look at how the SEC is faring on the recruiting front, as we enter the month of June:

ALABAMA

2015 verbal commitments: 18

Spotlight: You know that Nick Saban loves collecting gems in the secondary, and that's exactly what he has in four-star cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick of Jersey City, N.J. He's a very smart corner who has good size -- with room to grow -- to compete with bigger receivers.

ESPN 300 members: 16 (Fitzpatrick; WR Calvin Ridley of Coconut Creek, Fla.; WR Daylon Charlot of Patterson, La.; DT Jonathan Ledbetter of Tucker, Ga.; TE Hale Hentest of Jefferson City, Mo.; OLB Mekhi Brown of Columbus, Ga.; OG Lester Cotton of Tuscaloosa, Ala.; S Deionte Thompson of Orange, Texas; S Shawn Burgess-Becker of Coconut Creek, Fla.; RB DeSherrius Flowers of Prichard, Ala.; OG Richie Petitbon of Washington, D.C.; DE Christian Bell of Birmingham, Ala.; DT T.D. Moton of Shreveport, La.; OG Dallas Warmack of Atlanta)

ARKANSAS

2015 verbal commitments: 8

Spotlight: Defensive tackle Hjalte Froholdt of Warren, Ohio, is exactly what Bret Bielema wants and needs along his defensive line. The ESPN 300 member could add some weight, but has nice strength and quickness to make him a valuable get for the Razorbacks.

ESPN 300 members: 2 (Froholdt; DE Jamario Bell of Junction City, Ark.)

AUBURN

2015 verbal commitments: 15

Spotlight: Athlete Kerryon Johnson of Madison, Ala., is not only the third-ranked athlete in this class, he's the No. 1-ranked player in the state of Alabama. With his combination of size, speed and strength, Johnson could line up all over. He could be a running back or safety for the Tigers.

ESPN 300 members: 6 (Johnson; OLB Jordan Colbert of Griffin, Ga.; S Ben Edwards of Jacksonville, Fla.; OG Kaleb Kim of Hoschton, Ga.; ATH D'Anfernee McGriff of Tallahassee, Fla.; OG Marquel Harrell of Fairburn, Ga.)

FLORIDA

2015 verbal commitments: 8

Spotlight: The Gators need to upgrade in the offensive playmaking department and athlete Derrick Dillon of Franklington, La., has made a lot of noise as a quarterback, but will likely play receiver at the next level. With his speed and explosiveness, he'll fit right in with Kurt Roper's up-tempo, spread offense.

ESPN 300 members: 4 (Dillon; OG Tyler Jordan of Jacksonville, Fla.; WR Tristan Payton of Jacksonville, Fla.; S Deontai Williams of Jacksonville, Fla.)

GEORGIA

2015 verbal commitments: 9

Spotlight: Athlete Terry Godwin of Hogansville, Ga., could hit a couple positions of need for the Bulldogs. He has excellent ball skills to be a cornerback and his hands yell wide receiver. His speed and athleticism should only get better as the year progresses.

ESPN 300 members: 4 (Godwin; DE Chauncey Rivers of Stone Mountain, Ga.; DE Natrez Patrick of Atlanta; S Rico McGraw of Nashville)

KENTUCKY

2015 verbal commitments: 9

Spotlight: As the Wildcats look to enhance their defensive talent, outside linebacker Eli Brown of Bowling Green, Ky., is exactly what Mark Stoops needs. With questions and depth issues at linebacker, Stoops needs top-flight players to come in at that position, and Brown could be a great pass rusher for the Wildcats in the future.

ESPN 300 members: 1 (Brown)

LSU

2015 verbal commitments: 12

Spotlight: Cornerback Kevin Toliver II of Jacksonville, Fla., is the nation's top-rated corner prospect and has the build of that prototypical, elite LSU corner. He has great size and instincts, and excels in man coverage.

ESPN 300 members: 5 (Toliver; OG Maea Teuhema of Keller, Texas; RB Nick Brossette of Baton Rouge, La; RB Derrius Guice of Baton Rouge; S Kevin Henry of Baton Rouge)

MISSISSIPPI STATE

2015 verbal commitments: 16

Spotlight: Outside linebacker Timothy Washington of Yazoo City, Miss., could provide some very good depth if junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney decides to leave early for the NFL. He's still a little raw, but has the speed and quickness to be a real threat off the edge.

ESPN 300 members: 1 (Washington)

MISSOURI

2015 verbal commitments: 7

Spotlight: Quarterback Drew Lock of Lee's Summit, Mo., could come in handy for the Tigers in the future. This is Maty Mauk's team, but once he's gone, let the battle begin. Lock is more of a drop-back passer than Mauk, but knows how to buy himself time in the pocket.

ESPN 300 members: 1 (Lock)


OLE MISS

2015 verbal commitments: 6

Spotlight: The Rebels will have to help their depth at running back, and Eric Swinney of Tyrone, Ga., is a quick, strong, explosive back who has the ability to hit the home-run ball at any moment. Swinney's natural talent and upside could give him the opportunity to compete for playing time early.

ESPN 300 members: 2 (Swinney; ATH Willie Hibbler of Sardis, Miss.)

SOUTH CAROLINA

2015 verbal commitments: 11

Spotlight: Defensive end Arden Key of Lithonia, Ga., has great size at 6 feet 5 inches, and has plenty of room to grow with his 210-pound frame. He also has solid speed to cause trouble as a pass rusher and has the patience/strength to play well against the run.

ESPN 300 members: 5 (Key; ILB Sherrod Pittman of Jacksonville, Fla.; CB Mark Fields II of Cornelius N.C.; DE Shameik Blackshear of Bluffton, S.C.; WR Jalen Christian of Damascus, Md.)

TENNESSEE

2015 verbal commitments: 11

Spotlight: Preston Williams of Lovejoy, Ga., is the prize of the class, as the nation's No. 2-ranked wide receiver. The Vols might have signed a couple of impressive receiving talents in the last couple of classes, but getting a big, physical and fast player like Williams on campus would be extra icing on the cake.

ESPN 300 members: 4 (Williams; DE Andrew Butcher of Alpharetta, Ga.; OG Jack Jones of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; ATH Jauan Jennings of Murfreesboro)

TEXAS A&M

2015 verbal commitments: 13

Spotlight: Don't be surprised by all the foaming at the mouth from Aggies fans after the commitment of quarterback Kyler Murray of Allen, Texas. He's the nation's No. 1 dual-threat QB for a reason. He isn't the biggest player at 5-11, 170 pounds, but he has tremendous speed and athleticism and delivers a beautiful ball inside and outside of the pocket.

ESPN 300 members: 9 (Murray; DT Daylon Mack of Gladewater, Texas; S Larry Pryor Jr. of Sulphur Springs, Texas; WR Kemah Siverand of Houston; OT Trevor Elbert of Heath, Texas; TE Jordan Davis of Houston; OT Connor Lanfear of Buda, Texas; RB Jay Bradford of Splendora, Texas; S Justin Dunning of Whitehouse, Texas)

VANDERBILT

2015 verbal commitments: 3

Spotlight: Cornerback Donovan Sheffield of Nashville would fill a hole at a position of need once on campus. He's a very patient and smart player, who has exceptional coverage skills.

ESPN 300 members: 1 (Sheffield)

Atlanta NFTC awards 

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
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The NFTC tour continued to roll on with a stop in Atlanta this past weekend. The event featured a very strong roster of talent, including a pair of top-five prospects in the ESPN Junior 300. No group was lean on talent, with plenty of promising 2015 and even 2016 prospects to evaluate. It's tough to name everyone who competed and did well. Below are some of the event's top and most notable performers in the latest addition of the Recruiting Nation NFTC Awards.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: As the center of an intense recruiting battle between Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas and Texas A&M, a four-star linebacker will lean on those close to him when it comes time to make a decision; and two future SEC opponents took turns testing each other at Sunday’s Atlanta Nike Training Camp.


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Atlanta NFTC notebook 

March, 23, 2014
Mar 23
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ROSWELL, Ga. -- The Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp is generally one of the most impressive groups of high school football players you will find in the country. This year’s camp didn’t disappoint. Eight invites were handed out to The Opening, a prestigious invite-only camp held in Beaverton, Ore., in July.


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Weekly Commitment Roundup

September, 27, 2013
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AAC
Louisville
Ross Trail | QB-PP | Olive Branch, Miss./Olive Branch
HT: 6-2 WT: 200
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: 3
Class of 2015

ACC
Duke
Shaun Wilson | RB | Charlotte, N.C./West Mecklenburg
HT: 5-9 WT: 170
Positional Rank: #45 RB
Stars: 4

Florida State
Ryan Izzo | TE-Y | Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII
HT: 6-6 WT: 215
Positional Rank: #18 TE-Y
Stars: 3

Georgia Tech
Gary Brown | OG | Tampa, Fla./Alonso
HT: 6-1 WT: 284
Positional Rank: #71 OG
Stars: 3

Big 12
Iowa State
Colin Downing | K | Whitefish Bay, Wis./Whitefish Bay
HT: 6-0 WT: 170
Positional Rank: #18 K
Stars: 3

Texas Tech
Keland McElrath | DT | Clarksdale, Miss./Coahoma CC
HT: 6-5 WT: 290
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big Ten
Iowa
Marcel Joly | ATH | Forestville, Md./Forestville
HT: 5-11 WT: 175
Positional Rank: #145 ATH
Stars: 3

Michigan State
Jake Hartbarger | K | Whitehouse, Ohio/Anthony Wayne
HT: 6-3 WT: 171
Positional Rank: #4
Stars: 3

Wisconsin
Lubern Figaro | S | Everett, Mass./Everett
HT: 6-1 WT: 180
Positional Rank: #98 S
Stars: 3

Pac-12
Arizona State
Brendan Landman | TE-Y | Danville, Calif./Monte Vista
HT: 6-5 WT: 220
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Washington State
Sean Krepsz | OT | Riverside, Calif./M.L. King
HT: 6-4 WT: 293
Positional Rank: #84 OT
Stars: 3

Chandler Leniu | OLB | Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco
HT: 6-0 WT: 216
Positional Rank: #113 OLB
Stars: 3

SEC
Georgia
Keyon Brown | DE | Wauchula, Fla./Hardee County
HT: 6-3 WT: 235
Positional Rank: #19 DE
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#210)

LSU
Blake Ferguson | LS | Buford, Ga./Buford
HT: 6-2 WT: 240
Class of 2015

Dylan Moses | ILB | Baton Rouge, La./University Lab
HT: 6-1 WT: 213
Class of 2017

Missouri
Ishmael Witter | RB | Tampa, Fla./Alonso
HT: 5-8 WT: 184
Positional Rank: #107 RB
Stars: 3

Tennessee
Preston Williams | WR | Lovejoy, Ga./Lovejoy
HT: 6-4 WT: 185
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: 3
Class of 2015

Mountain West
Hawaii
D.J. Riggins | RB | Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian
HT: 5-11 WT: 170
Positional Rank: #148 RB
Stars: 3

San Jose State
Trevon Benton | OLB | Inglewood, Calif./Inglewood
HT: 6-0 WT: 180

Sun Belt
Texas State
Chris Bradley | DE | Shreveport, La./Evangel Christian
HT: 6-2 WT: 255

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
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With football season now in full swing, there was plenty of recruiting news over the weekend. From Georgia's big win over South Carolina with several top prospects in attendance to some impressive high school performances, here is the latest news around the SEC.


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The Early Offer: Meet Tyler Murphy 

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: When Florida recruited Tyler Murphy it knew he was an effective dual-threat quarterback, and now it’s his job to lead the Gators through the rest of the SEC schedule; the Under Armour All-America Game is right around the corner and the roster is loaded again for the Class of 2014; Tennessee lost to Florida Saturday, but also received big recruiting news from the Class 2015.


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JEFFERSON, Ga. -- A bystander watching Preston Williams (Lovejoy, Ga./Lovejoy) warm up at the Georgia state track and field championships simply said, “Who is that guy?” Williams stood on the edge of the long jump pit -- where he was challenging for a state title as only a sophomore -- and exploded with a flat-footed jump to the middle of the pit, reaching a height and distance that turned heads.

As did his outfit. Williams wore blindingly bright yellow shoes, mismatched socks (one was a multi-colored, neon leopard print, while the other was decorated with cupcakes), cut-off camouflage sweat pants over black leggings and a Lovejoy t-shirt. The ensemble was topped off with a gray scarf that would look great on a 78-year-old retiree from Boca Raton but seemed out of place wrapped around Williams’ noggin as a headband.

Preston Williams
Radi Nabulsi/ESPNSophomore Preston Williams is turning heads, and for more than just his fashion sense.
“This is my look,” Williams said. “My jumping look -- I am exotic.”

While his fashion is eclectic, the true answer to who Williams is a lot more complicated.


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