Brenden Williams was a 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver at Restoration Academy (Ala) coming out of high school. He didn't academically qualify after receiving several D1 looks. Things got worse as he was shot by a stray bullet in his hometown of Birmingham.
"I just decided that I needed to get away and head over to N' East CC," Williams said. "Coach (Charles) Lee (at N' East CC) kept calling me and said they wanted to give me a chance. He said they evaluated me and thought I could go a long ways. He kind of kept the faith in me."
Brenden was wounded and healing when he entered N' East CC's program in the summer of 2015. The staff thought it would be wise to let him take a redshirt and rehab his injury and get bigger with another position in mind.
"They wanted me to move to linebacker while I was redshirting because I was so aggressive. They thought linebacker would be the perfect fit."
Brenden's redshirt freshman season went well. He gained 35 pounds and learned the game of defense.
"It was tough early making the switch because receiver is what I played my whole life. I was always a real aggressive receiver and loved to hit. It really was a natural fit for me. Now, I wouldn't want to play anything else. I love hitting people."
Hitting people is exactly what Williams did this past season. He had 99 tackles in just nine games of action which led the state of Mississippi in tackles per game.
"I played a lot of Will linebacker this season. I've gotten even bigger now. I'm up to 230 pounds. Some schools are talking about putting me at middle linebacker."
One of those schools is located just down the road from N' East CC. Ole Miss looks to be the team that Williams is shooting to enroll in January.
"Ole Miss started really contacting me heavily the week before they played Auburn. Coach (Dave) Wommack got in touch with me. He wanted to know if I liked playing offense or defense better. I told him the only spot I wanted to play was linebacker. He said that's what he wanted to hear and invited me to the game. I got a chance to go to their game. I saw how much help they needed at linebacker and loved the game day atmosphere there. I knew then that's where I wanted to go to college after I leave here."
The Rebels are in search to totally revamp their linebacker core in this recruiting class. Ole Miss has stayed in touch with Brenden since he took in the Auburn game.
"We stay in touch every day. I came back for the Egg Bowl and they asked me to come on an official visit this weekend. I said yes. They love my upside. I can run in the high 4.5's (40 yard dash) at 230 pounds. They told me that they would have me there for three years and hopefully get me to a place where I can earn money doing this one day."
Coach Freeze met with Williams this past Friday.
"Coaches Freeze and (Chris) Kiffin came to see me. They wanted to know about my grades and my official visits. I told them that I had an official visit to Bowling Green last weekend and looked forward to my Ole Miss visit. I let him know that I'm ready."
Ole Miss is waiting on Brenden's scores from his finals to see if he's going to be eligible to enroll in January.
"They said I needed to graduate this semester. They told me to handle my business in the classroom and I should be fine. I've been waiting for my grades to come in, and today I found out I made what I needed to make It's a great day for me. Now I have to get my transcript finalized for Ole Miss. They haven't told me that I will for sure have a scholarship if I make my grades, but I think I will get one now."
If Ole Miss offers Williams it will not take long to make a decision.
"When they offer me I'm going to commit on the spot. I love their tradition and being in the SEC. I've always wanted to play in the SEC, and Ole Miss has a lot to offer. I plan on taking full advantage of my opportunity. I'm just going to say a prayer and hope it all works out."
Yancy Porter is the recruiting analyst for the Ole Miss Spirit and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org