Damian's Final 5

Before heading out to Los Angeles for Springdale's 7-on-7 event this weekend, Damain Williams settled on a final five of schools that still have a chance to sign him.

Like many happy vacationers from Arkansas, Springdale wideout and all-purpose athlete Damian Williams has been to Florida this summer.

Williams has even had the opportunity to go twice, although it was more about the business of football recruiting than relaxing.

Because of the two unofficial trips to Gainesville - the first one with a few teammates and the other with his parents - Florida has jumped into a recruiting mix that also includes the University of Arkansas, LSU, Texas and a few other teams.

All told, the 6-1, 180-pound standout - who left with his team this morning for an elite 7-on-7 event in Los Angeles - has 27 offers that are now down to five.

"I think I pretty much have got five solid ones on my short list, Williams said. "I've still got the hometown thing with Arkansas, Texas is still on the radar , there's Florida , LSU and Iowa...Overall, the recruiting thing has been kind of hectic and it's getting down to the nitty gritty."

Williams, who had 903 all-purpose yards and 8 touchdowns in 2004 despite playing less than half the quarters because of the 35-point mercy rule and injuries, certainly has done his homework with several unofficial visits since this spring.

"I've been to Florida, Texas, LSU and a couple of trips to Arkansas," Williams said. "I made a trip to Oklahoma last spring and got to see their spring game."

Certainly the Razorbacks remain on the radar for Williams, one of the five Springdale players that Arkansas has offered and a group that has close to 100 scholarship offers among themselves.

Arkansas would love to have a guy that scored via the pass, run, kickoff return and punt return last season and also played defense.

He averaged 17.6 yards per catch while hauling in 31 passes for 545 yards and four touchdowns and 7.2 yards per carry.

"It's a great program and I really like the coaches and everything involved with the program," Williams said. "They have done a great job recruiting me."

During the trip to Texas back in early June, he actually got to see the Razorbacks snag an NCAA Regional baseball win over the eventual national champion Longhorns along with teammates Mitch Mustain, Andrew Norman and Bartley Webb.

"It was nice," Williams said. "We got a chance - me, Andrew, Mitch and Bartley - to go to the baseball game and watch Arkansas beat Texas. It was a great atmosphere to see the big rivalry.

"Overall the weekend was great. We went to a water park the day before, got to see the game, attended the camp and got to see their campus again. We also did a family barbecue with the coaches and their families. It was a good experience."

Florida became an option when Malzahn, Williams and teammates Ben Cleveland and Webb took an visit. He soon went back with his parents.

"I think they are overall pretty interested," Williams said. "They talked to me and are highly recruiting me, but I think they are starting to get to my parents and trying to recruit them as well.

"I always knew that they were a great football program, but I also found out that they are top five in academics as well," Williams said of Florida. "People are student-athletes, not just athletes as you might think down there. You go down there to get your education."

The Gators are now led by head coach Urban Meyer.

"He is a great coach," Williams said. "He's been at Bowling Green and did an amazing job there. He then went to Utah and got them to the BCS. He's done some wonderful things with his receivers, his quarterbacks and his teams. I think he is going to turn the program around and be a positive influence on them."

Those who haven't seen Williams in a while will notice he is bigger after hitting the weights and eating right this summer.

"I have gained about five pounds over the summer," Williams said. "Basically it's just been eating right because when you are a kid you never really think about that. Nutrition is a big thing. I've also just been hitting the weights and that kind of stuff."

The fact that Springdale is in a stretch of 7-on-7 competitions have put the recruiting decisions on the backburner for the next two weeks.

"Right now we are focusing on the team thing right now so it is kind of hard to settle down and call it a place right now," Williams said. "I am not really sure right now."

Certainly all the Red Bulldogs are excited about the Nike 7-on-7 Elite Tournament that will be competing in on Friday on the campus of USC in Los Angeles.

"We are pumped," Williams said. "Any time you can go and face top-notch competition it's a plus. The schools in California are some of the best in the nation.

"It's a honor to be able to come out there," Williams said. "Nike sponsored one team to come out and they chose us. That's really special and they think high of us, but at the same time we have to raise our level to the expectations that we have set, Coach Malzahn has set and play for the time of Springdale."


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