One such athlete, hailing from just outside of Atlanta, is Lawrenceville (GA) safety Jamyest Williams.
The 2017 safety recruit was on hand at this past weekend’s EFT Football Camp in McCook, IL along with several other athletes from the Peach State to prove himself against new competition.
"I’m just coming here to see what the talent is like up north and get a feel for it,” Williams said. "A lot of people don’t want to come up north because they think the receivers are too good or too tall. But I just want to test myself."
Williams is just a bit over 5’8” tall, but he doesn’t let his height hold him back. He plays with a physicality and edge that make him a nuisance for opposing receivers.
"I always have a chip on my shoulder,” he said. "I’m a smaller guy, but I always feel like I have something to prove to the people who doubt me."
Williams doesn’t shy away from competition either. He and several other fellow athletes from Georgia have been competing this spring in 7-on-7 action, and he feels that it is a welcome challenge in the offseason.
"It helps me improve a lot,” he said. "My trainers with Elite Talent help me a lot. And the 7 on 7 season helps too, because you have to work on all your cover skills. Breaking on routes and things like that."
In addition to the competition, staying in the routine of football during the offseason is invaluable as far as staying game-ready and getting a head start when summer practices come.
"It’s very important,” Williams said. "If you play another sport, it’s very tough to come back in May and June and try to get your technique back before August."
Williams has already made several visits this spring. And while he hasn’t yet seen the campus, a visit to Illinois may have to wait until the summer.
The Illinois staff, known as tireless recruiters, have been active in building a relationship with the 4-star DB already, specifically linebackers coach Al Seamonson, who spends a lot of time recruiting Georgia.
"It’s been a great relationship so far,” he said. "I talk to Coach Beckman and Coach Seamonson a lot as well as a lot of the defensive staff. It’s really great conversation. We talk about more than football. We talk about family stuff and how practices are going and things like that."
Coach Seamonson has done well in establishing a strong rapport with Williams early on. His comfort level and approachability stand out to the defender.
"We have a great relationship, man,” Williams said. "We just talk. He’s a ‘life value’ guy. We talk about anything really. He checks in on how I’m doing. I can talk to him any time of day."
Williams is likely a long way off from any sort of a decision, but he knows that his choice will be based on more than just football.
"Mainly academics,” he said. "Football isn’t a long-term thing in life. How the school relates to me and my family. That and how I fit in with the program."