TN DL Dan Williams

Dan Williams, a 6-4, 320-pound defensive lineman who plays for East High School in Memphis, TN., talked to Gene's Page about his official visit to Mississippi State this past weekend.

Dan Williams Profile:

You officially visited MSU this past weekend. Who else are you going to officially visit?
"I am visiting the University of Memphis on the 3rd (of January) and UT on December 10th. I may change that date due to an all-star game that date."

What schools have offered scholarships?
"The whole SEC except for Georgia, Florida and LSU, Louisville, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, the University of Memphis, Southern Miss and Clemson."

Talk about your visit to State this past weekend.
"It was very enjoyable. Coach Croom was very up front and didn't try to beat around the bush. He told me that if I come to State they are going to make me work. He was very up front. He was like you come here you will have the opportunity to play but you are going to have to work to play. He is straight. He is going to speak his mind. He said I could come to Mississippi State and help them win the SEC and eventually win a national championship. The players got along just like family. There is no quit in them."

You mentioned national championship. Do you think Coach Croom is the type coach that can bring a national championship to Mississippi State?
"Yes sir. One thing I noticed is he has the respect of all of his players. When you ask them about the program, the players always mentioned Coach Croom first."

He speaks his mind and told you that you will have to work hard to achieve your goals at MSU. Does that kind of scare you a little bit?
"No sir, because, basically, that is how my father is. When I am wrong, he is going to tell me I am wrong. When I am right, he is going to give me some praise. In my situation it is normal."

What were your impressions of Starkville and Mississippi State in general?
"You could tell it is a football town. They love those Bulldogs, win or lose. Even after the game, I saw a lot of people still tailgating even though they lost. The campus is nice. The dorms are nice. They are building a lot of new stuff."

When did MSU start recruiting you?
"(MSU running back) Coach Drayton came to the school and got my number from my coach and called me in May. For awhile, it stopped because I really didn't have any interest in Mississippi State at the beginning. I didn't think I would be interested in them because they kept on losing. When they lost to Maine, I was like I couldn't see myself playing there. Then, the win versus Florida showed me that they wouldn't give up. Then they won back to back games. They almost beat Alabama, but the dude fumbled the ball. They got a couple of bad calls in the Arkansas game. When I was around the players after the game, they kept their heads up. Now they feel they have to focus on Ole Miss.

"One thing that got me after they lost (to Arkansas), Coach Croom called the whole team out of the locker room and told all of his players to look at the scoreboard. He told them to look at the scoreboard and said 'this is the last time that we will lose our final home game. That is a promise.' He said it means too much to the seniors."

What kind of impression did that make on you personally when he said that?
"It showed that he really loves his players. I guess you could say like a father because you never want your sons to get cheated. Like a father's love for his son."

What is your impression of Coach Croom now that you have gotten to know him on a more personal level?
"Off the field, he is a cool guy. He tells some jokes. He laughs. Coach Croom knows how to manage his time. When he coaches, he coaches. Off the field, he is a pretty nice guy."

Where does Mississippi State now fit in your recruiting puzzle now that you have officially visited them?
"They are probably in my top 5 now."

What position is Mississippi State recruiting you for?
"Defensive lineman."

Since State is recruiting you for the defensive line, did you get to meet their defensive line coach, Coach Haley?
"Yes sir. Coach Haley is a very exciting guy. He showed me where I would probably play for them, the inside technique. He said if I come in, I could really help them out. If I came in, I would probably be number two on the depth chart. I came to find out that he recruited my big brother, Tommy Williams, when he was at Austin Peay."

So, playing early is important to you.
"Playing early, especially in the SEC."

Who would you say are you top 5 schools?
"Right now, I would say I have a top 4. I would probably say Tennessee, Auburn, Mississippi State and Memphis."

Who would you say is recruiting you the hardest?
"I really can't say just one. All of them are recruiting me hard."

Would you say the four you mentioned as your top 4 are the ones recruiting you the hardest?
"I would probably say they are the ones recruiting me the hardest. Oklahoma State doesn't really call but they send letters."

What schools call you consistently every week?
"Those four."

Does Ole Miss call?
"Oh yeah, I forgot about them. Don't leave Coach Hobby out. Marion Hobby calls."

What do you like about each school?
"Tennessee, I kind of grew up a fan (of theirs). The guy recruiting me, Trooper Taylor, is a very exciting guy. Basically, they told me that I could help early, probably start as a freshman.

"Auburn is having an undefeated season. And that has really caught my eye. Another thing is I probably want to go to a place where they are winning.

"Memphis is like right around the corner. I think they are on the rise. I have been here all my life and I have seen when they were 3 and 9. Coach West has them believing. Now, he has them going to back to back bowls. I could play early because Albert Means is about to graduate. Basically, they won't have much depth at my position."

Did you get a chance to spend much time with the other recruits that were officially visiting MSU this past weekend?
"Yes sir. We talked. Two players (Keith Fitzhugh and Jim Miller) were already committed. They were real cool. They believe in Coach Croom and feel he has a good plan for Mississippi State. That is why they committed. When I talked to (Jim) Miller, he didn't really want to play in the PAC-10. He said they play slow football. He wanted to play in the SEC. When he was growing up, he always liked the SEC. He said it was, basically, between Mississippi State and Alabama. He talked to Coach Croom and felt like he was going to lead them in the right direction, so he committed. Coach Croom has made a difference at Mississippi State."

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Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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