Williams A Secret No More

Two recruiting classes ago, I watched a talented and versatile athlete named Barry Church go virtually unknown for a long time. Church was a great recruit and a lot of schools missed the boat. Manny Williams is a similar type of player, but it appears that Dave Wannstedt is not passing on this one.

Every year there is at least one player who somehow slips through the cracks, and everyone misses him because he was under-recruited or did not get exposure. The one thing I love about this job is finding kids who rarely are looked at and see them break out. This year that player was Manny Williams.

We first noticed Williams during last year's WPIAL Class A championship game when he ran 50 yards downfield and covered Penn State-bound wide receiver Derek Moye stride-for-stride. That is pretty impressive considering Moye is 6-5 compared to Williams who is around 6-1. Moye is also one of the fastest players in the state, Williams clocks in around 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash. It was also impressive considering that Williams was playing linebacker.

Williams, 205-pounds, attended our Scout.com Combine in Pittsburgh earlier in the spring and again was one of the most impressive players on the field. He followed that with outstanding camp sessions at West Virginia and most recently at Pittsburgh on Friday.

The Panthers thought so highly of the Williams that they offered the Clairton Bear a scholarship. Williams is heading to Pittsburgh this morning where it's possible that he may end up giving Wannstedt a verbal before he leaves. We spoke with former Clairton coach and San Diego Charger Jim Ward about his talented pupil.

"The kid is so versatile and he is still growing," Ward said. "He could easily be 225 pounds and get faster. He is the type of athlete that (Dave) Wannstedt wants on defense, so it seems like a good fit.

"He has done it all for us," Ward added. "He has played linebacker, he can play safety. I even put him at nose tackle one game for us, and he had three sacks."

On area where the Panthers could use Williams is on special teams where they have lacked playmakers for years. Frank Beamer has made a living out of recruiting kids like Williams.

"He blocks punts better than anyone I have ever coached," Ward said. "I'm not talking about him running in and throwing his body around. Most of the time he will literally snatch the ball from the punter's foot. He did that against Meyersdale in the state playoffs and returned it 50 yards for a score." Williams, who maintains a 3.0 G.P.A, currently holds offers from Toledo, Buffalo, Akron and Eastern Michigan as well as his newest offer from the Panthers. Ward expects that his list could grow, but after Monday it may not matter.

"He was the best cover guy at West Virginia's camp and I think they'll offer, but we're going down and meet with Wannstedt on Monday and if he likes it I don't think he should wait. Why should he?" During the Panthers senior Prospects Camp Friday, Williams was clearly head and shoulders above the other players in his group. The vocal Williams also did a good job of keeping things exciting by urging other players on during the drills.

It is expected that the Panthers are recruiting Williams as a safety.

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