Cal OC Offers Gainesville Cornerback

Chris Williamson hauled in 52 catches for over 1,000 yards this season in the Tony Franklin System, but the Cal offensive coordinator liked what he saw out of him as a defensive back.

Gainesville (Fla.) senior athlete Chris Williamson has been playing in the Tony Franklin System as a wide receiver for several years. So, when the California offensive coordinator made a trip down to Florida to see the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder, he could be forgiven for thinking that the Bears were looking at him as a wide receiver. Then, Franklin reversed field.

“They actually offered me as a cornerback,” said Williamson, who runs a 4.4-second 40 and caught 52 balls for 1,061 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. “Honestly, it was a bit of a surprise, to me. My recruiting coordinator and my coach felt that it was coming, and that it was just a matter of time of when it was going to come.”

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Cal had just started talking to the Gainesville staff, working out a time for Franklin to come out, and Franklin finally set foot on campus Wednesday. Franklin saw plenty to like about Williamson, who had 46 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry last season. Franklin just had to run the offer by head coach Sonny Dykes, and just like that, Williamson had his first Pac-12 offer and 12th overall.

“It was kind of quick, actually,” said Williamson, whose greatest strength is, appropriately enough, his quickness and his ability to break on the ball, as well as his acceleration. “They liked the breaking on balls and making plays on the defensive side. I’ve actually got offers on both sides of the ball, but they saw me breaking on balls and making interceptions, and they said that I’ve got good ball skills, which comes from me playing wide receiver well.”

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Sound familiar? Dykes has said just that about the Bears’ trio of wide receivers-turned-defensive backs, including Bryce McGovern, Griffin Piatt and Caleb Coleman. Franklin, in fact, relayed the success of those three to Williamson, who has no problem playing defense, and, as his highlights show, he absolutely loves to hit.

“That’s what he was telling me,” Williamson said. “He said, ‘We like that you play both ways, because at cornerback, you can make those plays on the ball. If it comes to you in the air, you won’t be scared; you’ll just catch it.’”

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While it was “a little weird” getting offered as a defensive player by the offensive coordinator, Williamson said, “I’m not complaining. I’m just happy to get the offer.”

That offer is a big one for Williamson, who’s also scored offers from BYU, Northwestern, Iowa State, Miami (OH), Southern Miss, Georgia Southern, Navy, Cincinnati and UCF over the past month.

“Cal is definitely up there in the mix, because that’s a huge school, Pac-12 football, and who wouldn’t want to be in California?” said Williamson.

The Bears already enticed another southeast defensive back to come out to California, and it just so happens that he’s good friends with Williamson.

“Actually, I do know Trey Cheek, from Archer,” said Williamson. “I know Trey pretty well. We actually both worked out with Ray Buchanan for a little bit, and his dad and my dad are actually really close.

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“That would definitely be a good thing, playing with somebody that I know in California. That would definitely be an experience, and a good one, at that.”

Another enticement for Williamson to come west is the educational opportunities that Cal would offer the 3.4-GPA student.

“I know that Cal’s a great academic school, and I know they play Pac-12 football, so they’re playing good schools. I know it’s definitely a great education,” said Williamson.


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