RECRUITING: Williams Excited About UF Commits

He continues to be one of the most unpublicized recruits during this big recruiting haul for the Florida Gator football team. Damian Williams of Springdale (AR) doesn't have the publicity machine going for him even with some of the most outrageous numbers ever posted by a prep wideout. He's not awed by the higher rated wide receivers in Florida's recruiting class, either. In fact, he thinks the more Coach Urban Meyer brings in the merrier.

(Damian Williams profile)

Williams may not be on everyone's national radar but he gets plenty of publicity in Arkansas where he's been awarded the Arkansas Player of the Year award by several organizations in the state after a scoring machine senior season. Williams caught 63 passes for 1,475 yards and 24 touchdowns. He ran for 493 yards and 10 touchdowns plus had touchdowns on a kick return, punt return and interception. Springdale capped an undefeated state championship season with a top five national finish in the high school polls.

Even though he didn't play much defense, he was on the field in definite passing situations. He finished with three interceptions and 35 tackles.

It was his offensive game that set him apart. He amassed over 2,200 all purpose yards and set several school records. His 106.7 receiving yards per game may be a state record, but researchers are still trying to verify it. He holds school records of most TD catches in a game (4), career TD's (29), most TD catches in a season (24), most catches in a season (63), most yards in a season (1,475), most yards per game (106.7)

The numbers are even more astonishing because Williams didn't start playing receiver until he was a junior. He played tailback as a sophomore but when he switched positions he found his true calling.

Williams was the first wide receiver commitment to Florida way back in the summer. Since then the Gators have commitments from several big time wide receiver/athlete types. Williams welcomes the challenge of competition and also the assistance on the field to help the Gators win in the future.

According to Williams, it was in the Florida coach's plan from the beginning to recruit the best possible players at the position and make the Gators a team to reckon with.

"They told me up front they were going to try and sign four receivers," Williams said. "This year they happen to get four receivers, a number one quarterback, and two good athletes that were highly rated in Jamar Hornsby and Jarred Fayson. I told them to go for it. I want to have the best receiving corps and the best offense in the country. That makes four of the top 12 receivers in the country and a great quarterback, so I am pumped."

That Williams would choose Florida comes as somewhat of a surprise since Springdale is in the back yard of Arkansas, which also plays in the SEC. From getting "Hog calls" at his games after he committed to Florida to bad looks in public, he's felt the pressure from locals who wanted him to stay home. He hasn't allowed the local pressure to faze him. He's steadfast in his resolve to be a Gator. He tells the other schools that try and contact him just what his plans are.

"I have had a couple of schools (that call) but I let them know that I am Florida bound," he said. "The more awards I win, (the pressure) gets a little worse. People are finally starting to understand I am doing what is best for me. But the more awards and more I am talked about, they really want me. At first they were kind of mad at me but now it's they really wanted me to go to Arkansas."

He has a teammate that is going through a similar and perhaps even tougher situation. Quarterback Mitch Mustain verbally committed to Arkansas during the season but in the last few weeks changed his mind and opened the door to recruiters. Williams said it has been tough on Mustain but his teammate has to do what is right for him.

"I feel bad for him," Williams said. "He is getting a lot of grief and is really just trying to make a decision that is right for him. The pressure is tougher when he is winning the national awards. When he wins those they really want him to stay here. He is doing what is best for him, and you can't blame him. He has to live with it for the next couple of years."

In Arkansas they have what they call the "mercy" rule in high school football games. When a team gets up by 35 points or more on another team, the clock doesn't stop for anything but a timeout. Needless to say, all the in-state games but one went to the mercy rule so the impressive stats Williams and Mustain racked up could have been much greater.

Williams sees his role at Florida merely a continuation of what he was doing in high school.

"Pretty much the same role I have now," he said. "I will be doing the jet sweeps and the tunnel screens … that kind of thing. I will be playing inside and outside. I am going to work harder than anyone else on the field. I am going to do what the coaches need me to do to help the offense and the team. I want to be a leader on the team. I want to help the coaches out."

He will be participating in the Max Emfinger All-Star game in Shreveport and then make his way to see his current teammates Mustain and offensive lineman Bartley Webb in San Antonio for the US Army All-American game. While there, he plans to meet up with future teammates like receivers Percy Harvin and Jarred Fayson. There is no question that he should be playing and not just visiting future teammates. Consider that a real shame on the people who selected the team.


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