Hours after becoming Northwestern's first commit of the 2011 class, Williams was competing in an indoor track meet, notching second-place finishes in the 4X100 relay and the 55 meter dash, getting edged out by his cousin in the 55 meter.
Oh well. NU fans will probably look past that and appreciate Williams' first-place performance in the 2011 recruiting race.Purple Reign caught up with Williams on the team bus moments after his track meet, where he took a few minutes to talk amid the chatter of his teammates on the ride home.
"I committed to Northwestern earlier today," said Williams, a cornerback from Oak Lawn, Ill. "I was thinking about this yesterday really hard. There were only three or four colleges that I wanted to go to – Northwestern, Michigan, Iowa and Cincinnati – but the other three colleges really weren't showing much interest in me."So, in true cornerback form, the 5-10, 175-pound Williams got a jump on things with his commitment to NU. He had an offer from Indiana and had been on a visit to Michigan. But the way he saw it, there was no reason to wait.
"When I visited Michigan, it wasn't like, ‘Hey, we want you,'" Williams said. "But at Northwestern, the people there, coach Fitz, it's best group of guys I ever met. And the academics are great. It's a great fit for me."Last season, Northwestern didn't nab its first commitment until May, when Baton Rouge, La., native Collin Ellis pledged to the Wildcats. So on the heels of what might be the best class in school history, Northwestern is off and running early with its 2011 crop.
And Williams seemed stoked to be on board."Well, Northwestern – there are a couple reasons why I fell in love with Northwestern," said Williams, who attended Northwestern's Sept. 26 home game against Minnesota. "They were the first college to ever send me something, and they were the first game I saw. I had never been to an NFL game before and had never been to college game before. "I just can't explain why I love Northwestern. I didn't need to wait. I had three top colleges and one really wanted me. My senior season, I just want to play football and not worry about living up to hype."
As a junior, Williams tallied 52 tackles, two interceptions and eight pass breakups. On offense he had 155 yards rushing and three touchdowns to go with one kick return for a touchdown and four blocked kicks.
Williams' high school coach, Anthony Sheehan, told Scout.com that – despite being rated as a one-star recruit – Williams is a big-time catch for the Cats."Jarrell is one of the most explosive players that I have ever coached," Sheehan said. "He is a very versatile player. He starts at corner, kick returner and will rotate in as a wide receiver and quarterback on offense. He does an outstanding job at all positions."
And for its part, it sounds like Northwestern did an outstanding job recruiting Williams."It was basically like, when I went to Northwestern, they really showed me love," Williams said. "I haven't visited Iowa yet, so I can't say northing about that. But Michigan invited so many people there wasn't any one-on-one time, plus they're scouting a bunch players in Michigan. Basically there was no reason to wait."
He added, "I'm most excited about becoming a Wildcat, becoming part of the Wildcat family."Of course, with early commitments comes an increased chance of decommitments – just look at 2010 Cats Will Hampton and Kain Colter, each of whom committed to Stanford before ultimately switching to NU.
When asked if he was going to keep his recruitment open, if there was a chance he may have a change of heart, Williams was unequivocal:"Not a chance. I gave them word and my word is everything."
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