O-Lineman shooting for title, then recruiting

McCluer North high school's Keith Williams is still playing football. Past the midway point of November, that means his team isn't just in the playoffs, but pretty far along. The state title game is on the horizon, actually, a place his team was last year and they will face the same team they faced last year. This time, though, Williams is planning on a much different conclusion.

This Saturday offensive lineman Keith Williams will head into his final game with McCluer North, trying for the state title. They were at this point last year and not surprisingly, they were facing the exact same team, Raymore Peculiar, perennially one of the best high school teams in the state of Missouri. Williams isn't intimidated, though, because this team is perhaps the gutsiest team he's played with during his prep career.

"Last year we had a lot of talent, but this year I don't know that we have as much, but guys just play hard," Keith said. "Everyone is just giving everything they have and that's why we are where we are right now."

Williams' being on the line doesn't hurt either, Keith leading a unit of bigguns that have only allowed a single sack all year. Williams considers their success part execution, along with a generous helping of attitude. "You have to want to intimidate the guy across from you," the 6-foot-6, 310 pound lineman said. "You don't really want them to think that they have a chance, so late in the game you have the advantage."

Obviously Keith is hoping for that to happen this weekend.

After the weekend and hopefully a lot of celebrating from his team, Keith will get down to concentrating on recruiting, something he's done to an extent, but you can imagine that he's got other things on his mind. "I have been looking at it a little, but until our last game is done, it's not really the most important thing on my mind," Williams said. "I know once it's all done, I'll be really looking at it and figuring out the rest of my visits."

A few weeks ago Williams had Minnesota and Indiana as two official visits he had already set. As of right now Minnesota's is still on and for the 2nd of December. As to the Indiana visit, that's still up in the air at this point. "I think I am going to wait for them to make an in-home visit and we'll see about setting it up," Williams said.

With the number of offers he has ranging in double-digits, though, Williams has a few more choices to make as to just where he'd like to take the rest of his five allowed official visits. For right now, Keith has some likely candidates as to where those visits might go. "I am hearing a lot from Michigan State, Iowa and Nebraska right now, so they are on the good list," Keith said about some of his main teams. "I am visiting Minnesota, obviously, and Indiana is in there for the open slot. There are some other schools, too."

When you look at the criteria for any prep player, it's going to vary, sometimes with position. For linemen, believe it or not there are a good portion of kids that view almost a requirement to be able to play early as something they'd just as soon not like to see. Some want to take that redshirt, get used to the physicality of the game and get on the field their second year, having four years to play.

Keith Williams isn't one of those linemen.

"I want to play," he said emphatically. "I look at the opportunity to play early and that means a lot to me, because I don't have to start, but I would like to have a shot to play my first year there."

For Husker fans, they would consider that a bonus, the much-maligned Husker line looking for a few capable bodies and age doesn't seem to matter at this point. With arguably their best overall performance as a line this last week, against a fairly weak Kansas State team, the loudest message sent was that instead of two seniors starting at the tackle spots, it was two freshmen instead.

They gave up fewer sacks against KSU than even against division 1-AA Maine, a game both senior tackles played in for almost the entire contest.

Williams has watched that and he likes the youth gone wild mentality that seems to be pervasive in Lincoln. "They are real young, but they have a great traditional program there," he said. "I like that they play young guys at starting spots, because it means that if I am the best at my position, i'll get a shot to play just like anyone else."

"That's important to me and with all the schools I am looking at, I will look at the opportunities I have to get on the field my first year."

I guess we listen or read that and expect it, because every recruit says that. It's when they arrive, see the playbook, experience the speed and physicality of the level, they sometimes change their mind. Williams doesn't expect that, because it goes back to the attitude his entire team has when it comes to going after what you want.

"You can't be intimidated by anything or you won't succeed," Keith said. "That's how we have won this year – we go out and play with a lot of attitude. You can't treat college any different or you are a step behind even before you get there."

When Keith might decide on where he goes is up in the air, of course. Having not taken any of the visits, he's wide open as to what he'll see and exactly what he think his ideal situation is. It's about more than depth charts, though, more than coaches and more than what a team has done this year as far as wins and losses throughout the season. Like many, he's just hoping he'll know.

"I guess I just want the best situation for me, but I don't really know what that is until I get there and see it for myself," he said. "You want to feel comfortable there, see it as a place you want to be for all that time and know that it's a place you can grow as a player and a person."

"I think the visits will answer that question, so after those are done, I'll hopefully have a good idea of where I want to go."

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