Recruiting players to play college football is about selling your football program but this past weekend was about everything other than sports for Millbrook's James Smith-Williams. College football will be a part of his life for the next four or five years but this weekend was a time to step back.
Those are exactly the words Smith-Williams chose to describe his official visit. “A time to step back”. Back away from the glitz of recruiting. Back away from the grind of the season. Back away from even the excitement of playing football in the ACC.
There will be more to life in the coming years after all.
“It was more about NC State as a whole. It was a step back from the football program and more about the university and what it was like as a school. There was a little bit of academic stuff. I’m coming in early so I’ll be getting my schedule and my roommates come next week.”
Some football talk was inevitable. When you put football players together what else are they going to talk about? He does feel comfortable talking about just about anything under the sun with the players already on the team. Smith-Williams said he has visited so many times it’s not even a big deal for him to be on campus. It’s like he was there yesterday. He popped up at most of the home games too.
The recruits all did tour the weight training equipment, the practice area and most everything else the Wolfpack has to offer.
The first night of the official visit Smith-Williams and the other recruits were part of a crowd that rented out the bowling alley at North Hills. They then went to the weekend’s basketball game and saw what the fans were like cheering for another Wolfpack team.
Dave Huxtable is one of Smith-Williams’ favorite personalities on campus. The two got to know each other a little better over those few days.
“He’s definitely a fiery, passionate guy. The way he coaches practice he just gets after it. That’s who you want to play for as a player. Someone who wants you to get after it. I’ve heard I’m going to be kind of a Will linebacker but I think they call it the ‘Bat’. I’m a pass rushing guy. That’s how they’re keying me in as a true freshman coming in.”
He would seem to be a good candidate to fill that role on the surface. His 19 sacks as a senior tied a Millbrook season record. He complemented that impressive sack total with 36 additional tackles for loss, which are included in his total tackle mark of 156. That production was spaced out evenly over the course of a very successful, consistent season.
Austin King and Emanuel McGirt were other committed players visited this weekend. That is who Smith-Williams spent the entire weekend with even though there were players not spoken for also visiting. Aaron Wiltz from Louisiana was there and the only undecided recruit that Smith-Williams saw.
“I’m excited they’re going to a bowl. It speaks to the direction they’re headed as a program. Getting wins like they are and going to a bowl. It’s better than three wins and staying home.”