He strode around the press box at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium with confidence, flashing a big smile and slapping hands with a contingent of family and friends that lined both rows of the tiered facility.
His National Letter of Intent had arrived at the Woody Hayes Athletic Facility two hours earlier, the first one from OSU’s 27 commitments to be certified by compliance and announced to the world. He wanted it that way, noting that he was the first verbal commitment for a class that took quite a bit of time and effort to assemble.
When it came time to discuss his commitment to the Buckeyes, though, Glover-Williams’ expression shifted ever so slightly from pride to relief.
“First I’d like to thank God,” he said, “Then second I want to thank my family, friends, teachers and principals for never giving up on me. It’s been rough, but hey, we made it.”
It was a candid and honest moment, an admission from a talented player who didn’t always know he’d have a spot in this class. But the incident that turned his spot in the class into a precarious one – a fight with a teammate at school last April – forced a change in him.
“Last spring, I think he really kind of hit that moment of recognizing what he had at his fingertips,” Canton McKinley principal Ruth Zitnik said. “He ways always kind of told he was special, but at that point he recognized he had a special gift and he could really capitalize on it, especially in relation to getting a college education. I think the pressures were finally at a point where he could manage them.”
Luckily for Glover-Williams, he had the support of his teachers and family. Zitnik said that the school did a better job of embracing the unique situation of high school celebrity, understanding that he was a target to some because of his status as an Ohio State football commit.
His mother, Ann Williams, noted that her son had to work on filtering out who he could trust and who he couldn’t.
“It’s hard when you’re young and you’ve got so many people who are putting themselves on you,” she said. “You get people that you don’t know wanting to be your friend… it’s been a tough ride, but he’s growing and learning.”
His growth as a person has been matched by his improvement as an athlete. Glover-Williams made highlights as a junior at the Friday Night Lights camp hosted by Ohio State, donning a Superman shirt and delivering a performance to back it up, but his return a year later was a more momentous occasion. The 2014 edition of Ohio State’s summer showcase marked the first time he appeared at an Ohio State camp or event since the fight that spring and also helped spark a position change.
The Ohio State staff, recognizing Glover-Williams as a prototype defender in Chris Ash’s pass defense scheme, pulled him aside for some cornerback reps in front of thousands of Buckeye fans. The competitor in him couldn’t say no, and he spent the rest of the night battling some of the best wide receivers in the country.
“I’m an athlete so I just like being competitive,” Glover-Williams said. “Whatever I do I want to be the best at doing it, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to be the best at that position.
“I’m from Canton, Ohio. Competition and being competitive is just what we do out here. I just want to show everyone what we do around here is be competitive and compete against the best players in the country.”
His fax is official and the hard part is done, but Glover-Williams knows there is work still ahead of him. Despite the overwhelming support he has received – being a Buckeye commit in Northeast Ohio is as close to royalty status as a teenager can experience – there will be others waiting for him to make a mistake
For Glover-Williams, that’s just another challenge to embrace.
“Once I get down there I know I’ll probably get the jitterbugs and be a little nervous but right now I’m focusing on getting there still,” he said. “I still have a couple more months of being in this city, so I have to get past that first. From there, you never know what’s going to happen.”