Prior to his visit to Michigan Friday afternoon A.J. Williams thought he already had a good idea of what Michigan is about. After all, he'd watched them on television over the years and talked to the coaches over the phone the past few months. He wasn't in Ann Arbor very long before he came to realize his preconceived notions fell far short of the actual experience.
"It was great," Williams said afterward. "The feeling I got from the coaches was just wonderful. It was just such a good vibe. They're definitely about winning football games again. That's something I'm definitely considering and want to be about. You could tell that they were excited about me being there. They were pumped up about it, but they weren't pressuring me at all. They were more like, ‘let it come to you. We know this is a good university, so we'll let the university do the work. We're not about to pressure you.'"
"It definitely exceeded my expectations. I didn't think that I would get such a great feel for the coaches and the players, but I got in and felt like I almost played for Michigan."
As has seemingly been the case with every other prospect that has dropped in on the Wolverines in recent weeks, that fast connection is rooted in the interaction with the coaching staff. Brady Hoke sets the tone during that process, and once again the personable headman made an indelible imprint.
"That's one of the best head coaches I've talked to," stated Williams. "He actually cares about every single player. I can tell that he's definitely about winning. He's about winning, but about winning the right way only. That definitely stands out to me because all of these bad allegations out there these days. Coach Hoke is not about that. The way he handles his business, I like it."
The other coaches and a number of players also reached out to Williams & company during the trip, which served to further enhance his feeling of connection.
"I sat down with the offensive coordinator and talked to him about who he recruits and why he does it," the Cincinnati Sycamore standout recalled. "I watched a little bit film and they showed me how I would fit in and what things I would do to help their offense. It looked pretty good. Then I down with my (would be) position coach Dan Ferrigno. He has been in the game for so long. He was just sharing some of his wisdom with me. It's nice to know that I could have someone that has been coaching for that long coaching me. Then I went in and I met all the tight ends… even the redshirts. I met some defensive guys… I met everybody. I met a lot of people."
There were too many faces to remember all of the names, but what won't be forgotten is how each individual -- and the program in general -- came across.
"They seem like they have a family atmosphere," added Williams' father, Aaron. "I got an excellent vibe from the brief time that I spent with them. Everything was perfect. It was kind of like an eye-opening trip for me. Looking at all of the history and all the champions seeing all the banners, it took me back to a different place."
As positive as the visit was, Williams didn't consider pulling the trigger and doesn't plan to for the foreseeable future. More visits are in docket, including one to Michigan State in the coming weeks. But make no mistake, the Wolverines definitely helped themselves in the race for his services.
"They were always pretty high (on his list), but this today definitely put them further up there," Williams admitted. "Right now the schools up there are Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, and Boston College."
GoBlueWolverine will have more on A.J. Williams in the coming weeks.