Signee Spotlight: Bennett Williams

Illini Inquirer's Ryan Easterling and Jeremy Werner break down what impacy California defensive back Bennett Williams will make at Illinois

Ryan Easterling’s Scouting Report

Reminds me of: Air Force S Weston Steelhammer.  I went a little outside the box on this one, but in terms of metrics, the two stack up pretty evenly coming out of high school.  Both are quite intelligent on and off the field, but have no qualms about laying the wood.  Both measured at about 6’2”, 190 pounds coming out of high school.  Both are stellar students.  Both always found a way to be around the ball, and both probably got overlooked by a lot of major programs.

The similarities between Williams and Steelhammer are very interesting, though.  Steelhammer was one of the FBS leaders in interceptions this year; Bennett Williams had double-digit interceptions as a senior.  Steelhammer was a first-team all-state player in Louisiana as a senior.  Williams was first-team all state in California.  Yet, as I mentioned before, programs slept on them, and if Williams can remain as productive in college as he did in high school, then, like Steelhammer, he could be in for a great future at Illinois.  Though I think Steelhammer has him beat on the name.

First-year impact

Williams adds depth at free safety behind Stanley Green, who had a pretty impresssive freshman season. None of the options behind Green -- senior Darwyn Kelly and redshirt freshman Harvey Clayton Jr. -- so there could be an opportunity to crack the two-deep. But the Illini likely will want Williams to redshirt, add strength and learn the defense so that someday he can compete to be the leader at the back end.  - Jeremy Werner

Werner’s narrative

Illinois defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson almost exclusively recruits his home state of California. While it takes time to build relationships and trust as a recruiter, it would have been a disappointment if Nickerson hadn’t landed a California propect. He went to a familiar family to land that prospect. Bennett Williams’ father, Garey, played at Cal with Nickerson during the 1980s (it is odd that Cal wouldn’t pursue this legacy harder). Distance likely will always be a hindrance in attracting California prospects, so it’ll be difficult to land a full-blown pipeline. But Nickerson and the Illini hope that Williams starts at least a slow-trickle of Golden State talent to Champaign.


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