RECRUITING: Williams Feels UF Is Right Fit

Damian Williams had to make the toughest decision of his life Thursday. If you've ever been to Arkansas and have a feeling for the passion of Razorback fans have for their school, then you can understand how difficult it was for this wide receiver from Springdale to say no to the Razorbacks and say yes to the Florida Gators.

(Damian Williams profile)

Springdale is less than 12 miles from the University of Arkansas campus, and with a team that has perhaps the top five prospects in the entire state in Williams and fellow wide receiver Andrew Norman, tight end Ben Cleveland, offensive lineman Bartley Webb and quarterback Mitch Mustain. Cleveland already committed to Florida and Webb has committed to Notre Dame, so the pressure to stay home on Williams, Norman and Mustain has been tremendous.

Williams, who is rated four stars by Scout.com, understood the situation so it wasn't without a tremendous amount of thought that he made the choice to commit to Coach Urban Meyer and the Gators. He spent the summer visiting all the schools that were on his list of favorites. He made two trips to Gaiensville, once with his coach, Gus Malzahn, and Webb, and the second with his family. The two trips to Gainesville allowed him enough interaction with the Florida coaching staff that he gave the Gators the edge.

"It was a very difficult decision throughout the whole process," said Williams, a 6-0, 177-pounder. "I have known the Nutt (Arkansas Head Coach Houston Nutt) family for a very long time, I played basketball with his son and we are very good friends. At the same time, I had to do what was best for me and I felt Florida was the best decision for me."

A week earlier, Cleveland committed to play football at Florida. While talking to Gator Country about his commitment to the Gators, Cleveland got a call from Williams who offered congratulations. Perhaps the call was an omen of things to come although Williams says his own decision was not determined by what Cleveland did.

"I think it is great that I will have a teammate coming with me, especially Ben," Williams said. "We have gotten close over the last couple of years. I wouldn't say his decision had any influence on mine. We both had to do what was best for us. It just happened to be that Florida was the best school for both of us."

There were many reasons why Williams chose the Gators. After traveling around and getting a feel for the schools and the coaching staffs from several places, Williams liked the people and the overall atmosphere in Gainesville. He also thinks he is a good fit for the Urban Meyer offense.

"I really enjoyed my visits down there," Williams said. "The style of play has a lot to do with it. They pretty much run the same kind of offense we run here. I pretty much enjoyed my visits there … the coaching staff is wonderful and the community in Gainesville is outstanding. One thing for Florida is the coaching staff. They were all very into the process and I think that was a good thing. It wasn't just one coach that recruited me, it was all of them and that helped me with my decision.

"I actually enjoy (offense and defense) … I am going to the University of Florida as a receiver, but if it works out where I can play both ways, or they need me on the defensive side of the ball, I would be more than happy to do it."

His hopes to major in business management or sports marketing. He has a 3.8 GPA and already has a qualifying test score so he is no slouch in the classroom. He sets his goals high whether it is for academics or for playing football.

"I hope to play early but the redshirt idea kind of came into play," he said. "I think if I am ready to play then I would like to produce and contribute as a freshman. If I need another year to get accustomed to the system then I will take my redshirt year. I am just going to try and get out with my degree and hopefully my masters. As far as getting to the NFL or whatever, we will have to see how that works out. I am just happy to get my education and be able to play football."

With the huge decision out of the way, Williams can concentrate on one goal. His Springdale team has some unfinished business after losing in the state semifinals in 2004. This is a season in which the team hopes to make amends.

"I am just going to do all I can to help my team this year and contribute to the program," he said. "We would like to win the conference and our ultimate goal is to win the state championship. With the exposure we have gotten over the last couple of years and the help of Coach Malzahn we might have a chance to be national champs. That would be great as well."

Damian Williams is mature young man who has his priorities in the right places. He is the perfect example of the type of recruit the Florida staff is concentrating on bringing to Gainesville


Fightin Gators Top Stories