Former UNC Pledge Returns to Chapel Hill

Antonio Williams made his first visit to North Carolina on Saturday since verbally committing to Wisconsin.

“They showed me a lot of love just trying to get me back to where I used to be,” Williams said.

Williams, of course, is referencing his placement on UNC’s verbal commitment list. The 5-foot-11, 208-pound running back from New London (N.C.) North Stanly was committed to the Tar Heels for nearly 10 months before reopening his recruitment last July. He then committed to Wisconsin in early December.

“I started liking Wisconsin back in middle school when I saw Montee Ball and all those guys running the ball the way they were running it,” Williams said. “And then I started getting recruited by them and I really got a liking for them. And then I went up to Madison and I just fell in love with the city, fell in love with the school, [and] just fell in love with everything up there.”

Shortly after his commitment to the Badgers, head coach Gary Andersen left for Oregon State. However, Williams stood firm with his commitment. But then another development: running back coach Thomas Brown accepted a similar position with Georgia.

“Me and Wisconsin, we’re on really, really good terms,” Williams said. “Coach [John] Settle was hired recently [as] running back coach and he’s actually from North Carolina and we had an instant connection. Everything is good there. Everything is back straight with me and Wisconsin.”

Regardless, the turnover has – at the very least – opened the door for UNC.

“If there was another school that I was considering right now, it would have to be only UNC,” Williams said. “There’s nowhere I’m even eyeing. But right now I’m solid with Wisconsin, but UNC is still in it.”

Hence, Saturday’s return to UNC on Saturday. Although he has made countless visits to Chapel Hill, Saturday marked Williams’s first live Tar Heel basketball game – no less a UNC-Duke basketball game.

“It was hyped,” Williams said. “It was crazy. I was excited to be there. I’ve always watched it on TV and my family is half-divided – my dad likes Duke and the rest of my family likes Carolina. That was pretty interesting to go and experience that in person.”

Williams’s father accompanied him to the event.

“It’s just Duke basketball,” Williams said. “It’s not like he’s in love with Duke – he’s just always been a Duke basketball fan. He likes Carolina in everything else.”

Before heading to the Smith Center, the UNC staff had several unique activities planned for Williams and the other junior day attendees.

“It was fun,” Williams said. “I enjoyed it. They had us do a live interview, they announced us on the blue carpet. They had a lot of things going on – we went to the locker room, played corn hole.”

Williams teamed with fellow in-state running back Jordon Brown in the corn hole tournament. The backfield duo didn’t fair too well – they were eliminated in the first round.

The line of communication between Williams and UNC – namely primary recruiter Chris Kapilovic and running back coach Larry Porter – will remain open, according to Williams. But, he’s unsure if additional trips to UNC are in his future.

Williams did note that he is in the process of scheduling trips to Wisconsin.

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