California DB Bennett Williams commits to Illini

Illini staff lands first prospect from California with a commitment from defensive back Bennett Williams

Since he joined the Illinois staff last March, Hardy Nickerson has worked tirelessly to land talent from his home state of California.

On Sunday, the Illini defensive coordinator got the first trickle out of what he hopes to turn into a Golden State pipeline to Champaign with a commitment from Mountain View (Calif.) St. Francis defensive back Bennett Williams on Tuesday, a day before Signing Day.

Williams chose the Illini over offers from several Ivy League programs, San Jose State, Air Force, Hawaii, Wyoming, UNLV and others.

Williams received an offer from Illinois on Jan. 16 and received a visit from Nickerson and Illini head coach Lovie Smith this week.Nickerson is very familiar with Williams. Nickerson played with WIlliams' father, Garey, at Cal during the 1980s. Williams, ranked the No. 116 safety in the Class of 2017, is expected to play free safety at Illinois.

"(Nickerson) loves my instinctive ability and nose for the ball," Williams told Illini Inquirer earlier this month. "He thinks I have a lot of room to grow, a high ceiling and a high potential. They think I can play safety and be the quarterback of the defense. I think safety would be a perfect fit for me at Illinois."

Williams is the 22nd commitment to the Illini in the Class of 2017.

This story is developing.

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