St. Bonaventure High (Ventura, Calif.) defensive back Michael Williams had big plans when he stepped on the practice field at an Oxnard (Calif.) combine a few weeks back. The 5-10.5-inch athlete hoped to notch personal bests in all of the testing categories. Though he fell a bit short of his stated goal, his results were still quite impressive.
"I ran a 4.4 and jumped 39 (inches)," said Williams. "I didn't do as well as I wanted to. I had a bad day I thought. I was hoping for 4.39 and 41 in the vertical."
A number of college coaches were on hand to witness that performance, and Williams recalled Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English being amongst those in attendance. Apparently the Wolverine's former DB coach (who, by the way, is still in charge of the safeties) believes that the youngster is versatile enough to play anywhere in the defensive backfield.
"He says I can go wherever I want," Williams said recalling his previous conversations with English. "I think I'd like to play safety. He and the coaching staff will project me where they think I'll be best at, but I've been looking at people in the professional league and it just seems like people with body types exactly like mine play safety and they thrive. So I think I could be good at it."
The Wolverines have done a very good job of making a strong impression in a very short amount of time. The early attention coming from the Maize and Blue still sticks out in Williams' mind.
"I really didn't know a lot about Michigan before they started recruiting me," he said. "Then they offered me my first scholarship. Right off I knew they were people who wanted me. They started the whole trend in offering me in my opinion. I gained a lot of interest from that. Then I got into the school a little more and looked into the history a little. Then I went to the campus and I said, ' I really like it.' "
That late April visit to Ann Arbor won't be Williams last. He plans to be back in town later this month.
"I am coming to Michigan camp on the 21st," he said. "I don't know how long I'm going to be there to tell you the truth. My dad made the plans, so I just know I'm going. I don't think I'm going to any other camps. I might be visiting colleges, but that's about it."
Michigan's persistence in Williams' recruitment has obviously paid off with their strong standing in the race for his services. However, they still face a stiff challenge from one of their traditional rivals. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have had Williams on campus a number of times, have one of his former teammates on their roster, and have one of the youngster's cousins as an alum. That has set the stage for the proverbial tug of war between the two national powers.
"Sometimes it's Michigan and sometimes it's Notre Dame," Williams said regarding which school sits atop his leader board. "It's not one school over the other all of the time. My top schools right now are probably Michigan, Notre Dame, Arizona, and Northwestern. My decision will come down to, do I fit in on the campus, and do I fit in on the team? I don't think I will be making it anytime soon."