A Loss For Words

Elizabeth High head football coach Chet Parlavecchio told his talented defensive tackle Hafis Williams, if Notre Dame contacts you again, it will probably be about an offer. A week ago, a school representative called and told the 6-foot-3, 290-pound New Jersey product to call Irish head coach Charlie Weis. Even though Williams knew an offer was coming, he still wasn't prepared for it.

Weis and Hafis Williams small talked for a minute about the weight room and school, and then Weis offered him a scholarship. Williams went speechless. He couldn't find words.

"He asked if I was still there," Williams said with a laugh. "My coach had to answer for me. I was in complete shock. I was about to go to tears. When coach P was done talking, (Weis) told me he hopes to see me soon, and I was like I hope to see you soon. Then I gave my coach a hug."

Williams had all the answers on Friday nights this past fall, and also written scholarship offer from Maryland, and a verbal offer from Penn State and Virginia. Williams said he had 106 tackles, with six sacks, and an amazing 65 tackles for loss. Not only that, but with Williams eating up a couple blockers on every play, all three Elizabeth High linebackers had over 100 tackles.

"I would have had more tackles, but we had three great linebackers and I just had to try and get my fair share," Williams said.

The life Williams dreamed of as young boy is starting to come together. Just him and his grandmother, Williams says he doesn't come from the nicest of neighborhoods. But thanks to his grandmother, he is on track for a much better life.

She was always hard on Williams when it came to the books, and really got on him going into his freshman year.

"My grandmother, she is like my motivator," Williams said. He has a 3.3 GPA. "My freshman year coming into high school, she said the only way you can succeed is with good grades in the classroom. She always knew if I got any type of interest for football, first I'd have to do it in the classroom. I always worked hard at school for her, but my freshman year I started doing it for myself. It became part of my character, do things for myself.

"She was right, and the more I did for myself, it started to take over on the field," Williams continued. "I've got better every year since my freshman year because she put me in that environment. I started my freshman year and did what I had to do, and I have started ever since."

Any spare moment Williams gets, he shoots down to Parlavecchio's office and watches film from the past season. He said teachers let him leave class if he gets his work done early. The two are critiquing every play from the past season. That's what he was doing when he got the call from Notre Dame.

Williams says his favorite schools in no particular order are Notre Dame, Penn State, Virginia, Maryland USC, and Rutgers.

"When you live in like a bad neighborhood, you always dream of playing at Notre Dame but you don't think it can happen," Williams said. "Now I see it can really happen, my dream is coming true. Every time Rudy is on, I watch it.

"I like Rutgers because they are up on the rise. And USC, for some reason I just like the way Pete Carroll runs his defense. He runs his defense like coach P, they both have a certain walk to them when the defense is out there."

Williams has tried to get Parlavecchio to switch his defense from a 4-3 formation to a 3-4. He played it in middle school, but coach isn't budging.

"I love the 3-4, I think it's my favorite defense," Williams said.

Williams has been to Maryland's campus and Rutgers's campus. He is going to Penn State's upcoming junior day, and said he might be able to make it in for Notre Dame's junior day. If not, he hopes to get to South Bend soon.

He's not sure when he'd like to make a college commitment.

"It all depends," Williams stated. I have to talk to my grandmother and my coaches because I'm going to ask their opinion about if I should commit early or not. But I'm probably going to make my decision during football season, but I don't know yet."

Williams hasn't gotten a chance to talk with his grandmother about the possibility of him going away for school. In fact, he admitted that he is kind of avoiding that right now. He did tell her that Notre Dame offered him a scholarship.

"She had heard it from everybody already, but when she heard it from me, she started crying and everything."

She couldn't find words as well.

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