“I just want to see how they’re looking this year,” Williams said. “Like I said last time, if there was any other place I went besides Wisconsin it would be UNC. I just wanted to see what they have this year.”
UNC didn’t fail to impress Williams, a 5-foot-11, 208-pound running back from New London (N.C.) North Stanly.
“The offensive line looks better than last year,” Williams said. “As far as running the ball, it looks more balanced – they’re running the ball a lot more than I remembered last year. That’s always a plus for a running back.”
Williams also liked how UNC managed its running back rotation.
“It’s always good to not kill one guy [and] keep everybody fresh at the same time,” Williams said.
Williams wasn’t simply attending a UNC event because he nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon. He was actually supposed to travel to Chapel Hill the week prior and observe a spring practice. A positive to the plan change was a shorter drive for Williams, while a negative was the inability to converse with the Tar Heels’ staff. To compensate, when he arrived Williams phoned Chris Kapilovic, his primary recruiter.
“Everything went good,” Williams said. “I talked to [Larry] Fedora, Coach [Larry] Porter, and Coach Kap. [Kapilovic] was just joking around saying I look good – because he could see me on the phone from the field – but I told him he looked better. It was just a funny conversation, just like always. It was the same relationship [and] close bond.”
One of the main differences between UNC and Wisconsin is their proximity to Williams’s family. Said difference was on full display Saturday as the Tar Heels’ held a scrimmage within an hour of his home, while Wisconsin was practicing 15 hours away.
“The positive is my family can come watch me at UNC,” Williams said. “There’s not really anything negative about your family watching you. So it is a negative not being able to play in front of your family every Saturday. But they’ll get there when they can and I know they’ll get there as much as they can.
“They support me. They support me, but at the same time that distance is going to be something as close as my family is. I think them and I realize sometimes you have to sacrifice. That’s something I’m willing to do in order to get where I want to be.”
Williams’s family isn’t completely on board.
“My dad says, ‘You haven’t signed any letters yet,’” Williams said with a laugh. “I told him, ‘I haven’t, but I’m pretty solid on what I want to do.’ They support me. I think they’ll be wearing red. My dad has a Wisconsin hat now, which surprised me because we did get into it the other night when we lost in the [NCAA basketball] championship.”
Williams will be the first member of his family to go off for college – and it’s not for a lack of opportunity. His older sister turned down an academic scholarship to Queens University in Charlotte to stay closer to family, while his older brother nearly enrolled in a school even further away.
“We actually took [my brother] down to Florida, dropped him off, and unpacked his dorm and everything,” Williams said. “When we reached Georgia on the ride back, he called us and said, ‘Can you come back and get me?’
“That just shows you how close my family is.”
Williams is convinced he’ll be different from his siblings.
Why is a North Carolina kid with a close knit family dead set on attending a Midwest school?
“When Coach [Thomas] Brown was there, he pulled me in,” Williams said. “I was already interested in Wisconsin knowing their running back history and how they run the ball… While he was pulling me, I built a great relationship with him but at the same time I just fell in love with the university. I love everything about Wisconsin – I don’t know what it is… Coach Kap used to tell me all the time, ‘Make sure you go to a place that if you get hurt, that’s where you want to be.’ That made my ultimate decision – I could see myself going to Wisconsin even if I didn’t play football.”
According to Williams, the situation became “hazy” when Brown left Wisconsin to take a job at Georgia.
“I actually talk to every coach on the staff now because we had a little scare there when Coach Brown had left,” Williams said. “He was the only one I was talking to at the time. Whenever that happened and Coach [John] Settle got hired, I started talking to every single coach [on the Wisconsin staff]. I know all of them now. We all have great relationships. I talk to Coach [Paul] Chyrst at least twice a week [and] Coach Settle every single day.”
Williams has already scheduled his Wisconsin official visit for Oct. 3 when the Badgers host Iowa. But first, he’ll make a June visit to Madison.
“My mom wants to visit and I don’t want to bring her up there when it’s cold,” Williams said with a laugh.
Despite the firmness of his commitment, Williams has kept the door cracked for UNC, the only other school that he communicates with.
“I think it’s because it was the first school for me,” Williams said. “It got things started. You can’t really close the door on people that started things for you. No matter what, even if I do leave for Wisconsin I feel like the UNC staff and I, we’ll still have a great relationship – unless we play them. The guys are just so great there [at UNC]. The staff they just care about you. ”
Along those lines, Williams said he hasn’t ruled out future visits to UNC.
Antonio Williams Profile
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