Nashville Ties Have Williams Looking North

Tennessee four-star Class of 2016 safety has an old friend on Penn State's new staff. The Nittany Lions intensified their interest in him Monday.

JoeJuan Williams can recall spending nights at Bob Shoop’s house. That’s why his Monday offer from Penn State’s new defensive coordinator was all the better.

Williams was teammates with Shoop’s son, Tyler, at Nashville, Tenn., Archbishop Ryan, when the elder Shoop was DC at Vanderbilt. Shoop would often take in a game or practice at Ryan, and the family would have players over afterward.

Of course, Shoop followed former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin north to Penn State in January. So it was only natural for Williams, a 2016 four-star safety who established himself as a prime-time prospect by attending camp at Vandy last summer, to have interest in the Nittany Lions.

“That’s where we really established our relationship,” Williams said. “I went to Vanderbilt camp, and that’s when I met Coach Franklin and that’s when recruiting really took off.

“When the [2013] season started, they kicked it up on me in recruiting. Obviously, I’m pretty excited right now.”

Heading into his junior season, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has eight offers, as Penn State joins LSU, Vanderbilt and Kentucky among others.

Fittingly, it was Shoop who delivered the news. The two talk about once a week. This time, though, it was different. Minutes later, Williams’ excitement still oozed through his voice.

“The coaching staff wants me to look into the school, and I’m going to look into every school that offers,” Williams said. “I really like their fan base and the stadium atmosphere, so now I have to look into it a little more.”

The safety said Shoop’s coaching style in particular stands out, adding his camp experience gave him an idea of what playing for him would be like.

“He’s just a great coach,” Williams said of Shoop. “He’s just great, and he knows what he’s talking about with safeties and defensive backs.

“He’s great at it, and I really like that a lot about him. He wants me to play at corner, but he said I could play anywhere around the defensive backfield.”

Williams heaped similar excitement on Franklin’s abilities.

“When the [2013] season started, they kicked it up on me in recruiting. Obviously, I’m pretty excited right now.”

“I knew him a lot but he didn’t really know me until this year,” Williams said. “I got to talk to him a couple times, but that’s really our relationship.

“He’s a great coach. I’ve known him since Vanderbilt, and he has the most fire. The whole coaching staff does.”

A busy July will lead into Williams’ junior season. He will visit Alabama July 14 (and expects an offer) before traveling to Auburn, LSU and Florida State before August.

The safety said a visit to University Park this fall would be nice, though he’s not sure he can swing it.

“I really want to, but I don’t know if I can make the trip up there,” he said. “That’s probably why my senior year, if I still have a lot of interest like I do now, I’ll take an official”.

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