With 22 months to go before he’ll ever sign on the dotted line, Pickerington (Ohio) offensive lineman Alex Williams was ready to end his recruitment.
He called Pickerington North head coach Tom Phillips, who instructed him to call his brother, Iowa State Director of Player Personnel Doug Phillips. Being a 2018 prospect, NCAA rules prohibit messaging between prospects and schools from calling prospects, but Williams could call Iowa State.
Phillips answered and Matt Campbell was nearby.
“I called Doug and Matt came into the room and we had our conversation and I verbally committed,” Williams said Thursday after his commitment. “It was sheerly just excitement. He really made the whole commitment that much better. He definitely makes me feel like I was a building block.”
The 6-foot-6, 223-pound Williams visited Iowa State during the weekend for its spring game and left impressed with both what he saw and heard. Iowa State projects the lanky sophomore on its offensive line when he arrives.
Iowa State offered Williams during his spring break several weeks ago, and the weekend visit and conversations were all he needed to make up his mind.
“I just really feel comfortable with Coach Campbell. My family loved it there and I, of course, do too,” Williams said. “I thought it was great. I love the campus. Coach Campbell and Coach Phillips really made me feel at home. He gave me every opportunity I could to really experience the atmosphere of the school and the campus environment.
“During the spring game I saw there was a certain love to the coaches and players that they showed. Then walking around through campus without even having gear on or my badge, everybody said, ‘Hi,’ ‘Hello,’ everybody was friendly on campus. It was a great experience.”
Williams was impressed by his conversation with offensive line coach Tom Manning, who particularly likes Williams' long, 6-foot-10 wingspan. Iowa State thinks Williams can continue to add weight in his next two seasons to develop into a Big 12 lineman.
“They like the athletic standpoint in my highlights and everything that I was just naturally born with,” Williams said. “Coach Tom Phillips, my head coach at my high school, he put in a great word for me. He gave me great input that I have to live up to, which I think I can.”
That connection between the Phillips brothers paid dividends Thursday, when Williams ended his recruitment 22 months before he’ll sign with the Cyclones and jumpstarted Iowa State’s 2018 class with its first commitment.
“Doug has done pretty much close to everything for me,” Williams said. “He’s went out of his way every given chance he could, every time I have a call or a question he’s going to always answer for me. Of course he can’t call back or anything but he’s played a huge role. He’s been the middle man between my head coach, which is his brother, and Matt Campbell. He did a lot for me.”
“I’m not too much of a fan of the recruiting process and Iowa State giving me this [chance] this early and being able to go here is a dream come true.”