The recent success on the field has led Duke into much deeper water on the recruiting trail. Last Saturday the Blue Devils hosted one of the top 105 players in the class of 2016. We caught up with this high four star running back to get his impressions of Coach Cutliffe’s program and more.
After making an early commitment to North Carolina, four-star New London (N.C.) North Stanly RB Antonio Williams decided to slow things down and re-evaluate. And so he de-committed from the Tar Heels over the summer and began the process with a different approach.
“I have 13 offers right now,” said Williams, “and the recruiting process is going great. I decided to re-open things and take it a lot slower this time. After thinking about it, I just thought there was more out there for me.”
With a new outlook and more thorough approach on deck, Williams has been learning about the various programs who have extended offers. He’ll soon take a trip out to Wisconsin, and last week he picked up and offer from Duke. He followed that up with a trip to Durham to watch the Blue Devils take on Tulane.
“The visit to Duke went great for me, and the coaches made me feel at home there. When I got to campus it was a sense of being home. I’d love to play under a legendary coach and great role model like Coach Cutcliffe. And Coach Boyette is a great running backs coach.”
“I feel that both Coach Boyette and Coach Cut present themselves as great men and mentors for young players. They make me feel as if I’d be the best man I could be as well as the best football player I could be with them. You really see they are family oriented, which is very big with me.”
Recruiting as a running back, Williams has seen his stock rise to the point of being ranked the nation’s No. 102 overall prospect regardless of position by Scout.com. With such a lofty ranking, you’d think the idea of being a featured back would be high on his agenda when deciding on a school, but not so.
“That doesn’t matter to me, because many and almost all colleges use so many backs these days. If you’re good enough at the position, you can work hard to separate yourself from those other guys and it’ll work out.”
Williams’ scouting report paints the picture of a powerful runner with good speed who finds the holes and powers through them while switching gears to get into the open field. It’s why he’s so highly ranked, but for all the accolades, the player is also aware of his weaknesses.
“My weaknesses are probably in the pass blocking game, and I know it’s something I need to improve on. I think my strongest asset is my vision and the determination I play with once the ball is in my hands.”
With a decision likely more than a year away, Williams says he’s going to continue to gather information and build relationships with the various coaching staffs. Following his return from Durham, however, he does have a few impressions of the Blue Devil program.
“I was amazed, honestly. I knew Coach Cutcliffe had changed things there, but to see the confidence in the players made me confident in their program. I could see myself being a part of it, and there really wasn’t anything bad about it.”