Mat Williams: From Gator To Gamecock

As a child, Mat Williams and his family rooted for an energetic, young coach named Steve Spurrier, as the home state Florida Gators and their seemingly egotistical front man were only 250 miles north from their home in Fort Myers. Living in a house adorned in blue and orange, young Mat felt destined to play for Spurrier. No one would have guessed, though, he wouldn't be wearing blue and orange.

After signing back in February to play his college ball under Spurrier at South Carolina, Williams arrived on the USC campus last Thursday with a new reason to compete. The 50th rated tight end in the nation cited "competition" and a "hatred of losing" as the two main reasons he's worked so hard throughout his career at Riverdale High School.

The 6-5, 230 pound product of a hell-bent for Steve Spurrier family, Williams can bench press 300 pounds and squat over 350. That's not enough though according to Williams, "I need to get bigger and stronger."

"(The coaches) have told me to just come in the summertime and compete. I just want to get around the team and stuff and see what happens," he continued, "I just want to get in there, work hard, and compete."

When discussing his reasons to commit to South Carolina Williams revealed a rare trait. Most blue-chip athletes dream of playing for an existing national power. Williams, however, enjoys the excitement earned from the building phase, similar to the one he experienced in high school.

"That was a big thing. I looked at that a lot. It was kind of the same thing with my high school, because we had never won anything, and we just went to the playoffs three straight years in a row and won a couple games in the playoffs. That was really special, and hopefully we can do the same thing at South Carolina."

Excited about being a part of South Carolina's highest ranked recruiting class ever, he continued, "We've got a great group of guys coming in - a great class. Just get ready to win."

Already considered a sound blocker with good hands, Williams hired a personal trainer to help improve his 4.8 speed in the forty yard dash in the months leading up to the start of his college career.

Though Coach Spurrier had a lot to do with his decision, Williams was also impressed with positional coach conversations, "I talked with Coach Chatham when I was up there on my official visit, and we sat down and talked about all the ways to get the ball to the tight end and the blocking schemes and stuff. He‘s a good coach."

With his new challenge just beginning, Williams has flexible goals because he puts the team ahead of himself.

"I'll just come in and work hard. If I redshirt that's fine and if I don't, that's fine. Long term, though, in three years?" he contemplates, "I want to be playing for some SEC Championships."

Recruiting - Fun but Glad it's Over

Williams commented on the fantastic recruiting job done by Coach Reaves and others at South Carolina. He spoke well of their knack for knowing when to "back-off" or "bring it on."

"South Carolina, Louisville, Ole Miss and South Florida (were the main schools I considered). Once I took my visit to South Carolina, I still had two visits left but I already knew that's where I was going," he explained, "I took the visit to Louisville not the last one to South Florida because I knew I was choosing South Carolina."

While citing South Carolina's fantastic approach to recruiting, Mat explained the opposite end of the spectrum in great detail, "At first it was crazy, but then I got used to it. It was kind of fun, but I was just glad when it was over. At the end, Ole Miss was driving me nuts."

So the Williams family got their wish. It comes as no surprise to them years later as Mat begins his career under Coach Spurrier. The only surprise in Fort Myers these days is the Williams' house. Once fully clad blue and orange, it's strikingly different adorned in all garnet and black.

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