Up Close: Melvin Williams, Part II

COFFEYVILLE, Kan. --- North Carolina offensive line coach Sam Pittman and Coffeyville CC head coach Jeff Lieker have a long history together. The two played against each other in college, and later coached against one another during Pittman's days at Hutchinson (Kan.) CC.

After Pittman left the junior college ranks, he and Lieker remained in contact.

"I've always tried to help him when he was after somebody [in junior college]," Lieker said. "The friendship we've had has always been good."

When UNC identified various positions that required immediate help, Pittman contacted Lieker.

"Honestly, I think they were after a running back – that was initially the call," Lieker said. "And we had a couple others that they had an interest in at different positions."

One of those positions was cornerback. Lieker immediately recommended Melvin Williams.

"I said we've got a safety from Tennessee that's had a real nice two years here [and] has done well in the classroom," Lieker said.

Shortly after meeting with Williams, Pittman had a UNC scholarship offer for him.

"I think when Coach Pittman met Mel' that was the key – how he felt when he left the meeting with him as far as just meeting him and saying hello to him [and] just the feel of ‘That's a heck of a kid,'" Lieker said.

Before UNC stepped into the picture, Arkansas, Clemson, Mississippi, Oklahoma State, and Tulsa had all offered scholarships and were in heavy pursuit of Williams.

"Clemson was my number one school at the time," Williams said. "Clemson was always talking to me saying good things – saying they want me to come in and be a big guy there."

All that changed once UNC joined the race.

"When North Carolina came in and offered me – North Carolina had always been my dream school ever since I was young and I was playing basketball – there weren't any words about where I was going; that was what I was looking for," Williams said.

Williams made the decision to pledge to UNC without truly visiting the campus.

"I heard so much about Chapel Hill," Williams said. "I heard so much about the environment. And it's just not two people telling me this, this is throughout my life I heard so much about North Carolina – how beautiful a place it is, how well they take care of their athletes, how the community is supportive."

Williams did attend a UNC basketball game as a guest of then-Tar Heel hoops recruit Brandan Wright, who Williams grew up with.

"We really went down there for a game and we came right back to Tennessee," Williams said.

Williams' UNC official visit reaffirmed others' assertions about UNC and Chapel Hill -- and that tied a bow on his recruitment.

"I can't explain it," Williams said. "I smiled the whole time I was there. I was just excited about being there right when I got off the plane…The whole visit – the coaches, the players, the community support, the atmosphere – there was nothing that went wrong that weekend. Everything was just perfect. It was just the perfect home for me."

In January, Williams will officially enroll at UNC and then participate in spring practice a few months later. He's expected to compete for one of the starting cornerback positions.

"They told me they're not recruiting me for depth, they're recruiting me to come in and be a big factor," Williams said. "They told me they needed a corner/safety – someone that can play both [positions] and is physical. They told me they needed a guy that can come in with leadership, a guy that can come in and turn some stuff around in the secondary."

Although Williams played cornerback in high school, he starred at strong safety for Coffeyville Community College the past two seasons.

"I think about [the position change] all the time," Williams said. "I'm just going to have to be on my toes all the time. My reaction time is going to have to be quicker… But, I'm going there to win a title and earn an education."

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