"Coach (Ron) Zook really opened my eyes," said the 6-5, 235-pound linebacker from Fort Lauderdale's Boyd Anderson. "Before we ever got to do anything about football, he had us in there talking academics and about how important it is to have your academic house in order. With Coach Zook, first things are first and that's academics and grades."
For Gerald Williams, academics are a strong point anyway, but the emphasis on the scholastic side of things with Coach Zook left a lasting impression.
"I've got a 3.0 and I'm already pretty close on the SAT," he said. "I've taken the SAT once already and I did pretty well on it. I'm not that far away now (from a qualifying score) so I know I'll get it the next time. I want to go ahead and get that done so I'm qualified and I can really concentrate on keeping my high school grades up there and getting ready to go on to play college football."
Williams will get a chance to play college football at the highest levels. He's already been offered by more than ten schools but his list of favorites has UF, Miami, Florida State, Georgia and LSU. He says that he really doesn't have a real favorite among those five, and that he is going to listen carefully to what each school has to offer so that he can make the best choice for the future.
"I want to major in business," he said. "I want to own my own business someday so I really want to stress business management. Football's not going to last forever, so I have to prepare for the future. Where I go to school is going to be the best place for me for both football and academics."
He says he patterns his game after Derrick Brooks (former FSU All-America and All-Pro with the Tampa Bay Bucs) and DJ Williams (Miami All-America, first round draft choice in the 2004 NFL draft). Both Brooks and Williams are known for using their speed to make big plays. He's been timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds and though he will play middle linebacker in the fall, he knows that at the college level he'll move to the outside to take advantage of his speed and his long wingspan.
"I'd be happy to stay inside, but everyone tells me that because I can run, I'm better suited for the outside, so I'm sure that's where I'll wind up. "
When he's not in the weight room trying to add on to a 315-pound bench press, he's playing AAU basketball this summer, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. He's having a fun summer, but knows that once September arrives, the fun is over and it's time to get down to business.
"I love to play basketball, and I think I could contribute on a college basketball team," he said, "but football is going to be what gets me a scholarship so that's where I'll be giving all my focus in the fall. I want to have a great year and I want to get ready to play college football."