B.C. Rain High standout Ryan Williams had met and spoken with Auburn's coaching staff before, but seeing them in action on the practice field and sitting down with them made his choice an easy one in the end, he says.
"I just felt real comfortable there," Williams tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "As soon as I stepped on campus I felt the atmosphere and the coaches greeted me. I just felt real good there.
"I felt like their defense is intense and that's how I am. I play ball fast and aggressive, that's how I am and exactly how they play. I feel like if I go there I can come in my freshman year and start."
Particularly important for the four-star prospect was having the chance to meet and discuss football and life with Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. A fiery guy on the field who expects the same thing out of his players, Muschamp proved to be Williams' type of coach right from the beginning of their relationship and seeing him in his element was one of the final straws for the 5-11, 185 defensive back.
"It was real big," Williams says. "I had to see if he was a soft coach or if he was a motivator or an all-around great coach. When it came down to it he was a great coach. He cares for the kids. He cares for us. I feel like we've got a special relationship and that's how it's supposed to feel when a coach and a player communicate with each other. He knew how I played right off the bat."
Williams was a standout in San Antonio at the U.S. Army Junior Combine and has been a hot prospect since that time.
Auburn's connection to Williams began with linebacker Coach James Willis, who recruits the Mobile area for the Tigers. In his first season on the job, Willis has already made inroads in the region. Williams says that because he's so easy to talk to and helpful, Willis has become like a part of the family for him during the summer months.
"Coach Willis is like a pop to me," Williams says. "He looks after me and makes sure I have anything I need as far as information. He was straight up with me and he provided me with information to make my decision.
"I feel like when I go up there with him I'm going to be taken care of. I don't feel like he'll let me get off track and he'll push me hard. That's what I need because I feel like if I work harder than anybody and play harder than anybody then I'll play my freshman year. I know he'll push me to that limit."
The summer was a long one for Williams as he attended several camps, but didn't make it to Auburn the weekend he expected to come. That was unfortunate because Williams had passed the word through the grapevine of friends such as Gabe McKenzie and Antonio Coleman that he wanted a piece of Auburn senior wide receiver Courtney Taylor. That didn't work out, but Taylor finally got a chance to meet with Williams when the high school senior visited last weekend and things got smoothed over very quickly as the Auburn players told Williams the positives of being a Tiger.
"Courtney is real cool," Williams says. "I thought he was going to be on me because I called him out, but he was real cool. I thought he was going to be mean, but he welcomed me with open arms. Of course, they're going to have nothing but good things to say about the program. They looked after me and taught me the ropes already to get me ready for the locker room.
"Knowing that I've got them and Courtney behind my back is cool," he adds. "Even though Courtney is leaving he said he would stay in touch with me and work out with me sometimes. Just knowing I have that support from the team is real cool. The players are even looking forward to me starting my freshman year because they know how I play ball."
Last week Williams says that he planned to visit both Auburn and Alabama before making a final decision, but his visit with the Tigers changed things for him. While he says there's still a chance he'll take the trip to Tuscaloosa, Williams says that in his mind things are over.
"You know when you're at home you feel like you can pretty much chill and relax," Williams says. "That's how I felt. I just went ahead because I know if I went to Alabama it's not going to feel right because Auburn is where I need to be. Auburn is where I feel at home. I'm just comfortable. I got comfortable with the players and usually I'm nervous around other players. That was ultimately the reason I made the decision.
"It depends on how I feel after tomorrow (Friday's) practice," Williams says on taking the visit to Alabama. "If I'm feeling upbeat and healthy of course I'll go. If I'm feeling sluggish and I just feel like I need my rest then I'm going to stay at home."