Since taking over at Tennessee, second-year head coach Butch Jones has been impressive in doing what so many new coaches promise – keeping top in-state talent at home.
Jones and Co. will try to keep their momentum going in the Volunteer state as they go after Father Ryan (Tenn.) High standout JoeJuan Williams.
Williams, a Scout 300 safety prospect for the 2016 cycle, was offered a scholarship by Tennessee in May. Since then, the state’s top junior defensive back has visited Knoxville three times. According to Williams, the Vols staff has shown him a lot of interest.
“All the coaches, they love me,” the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder said. “I got a chance to talk to coach (Butch) Jones … he wants me to be here and there’s gonna be something special. The program is starting to blow up, and I really like that. I’m definitely gonna be down in Knoxville for some games and it’s gonna be great.”
As of right now, the Vols are appointing a convoy of coaches to Williams’ recruitment. Defensive coordinator John Jancek, defensive backs coach Willie Martinez and linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen have all accompanied Jones in the chase for one of the state’s top players. Though it’s still early in the process, Williams says the coaches have made it very clear they want him on board soon.
“Committing,” the Scout four-star replied when asked what the Vols coaches have discussed with him recently. “They wanted me (to commit) as fast as possible. I really appreciate it. They were like ‘We want you here, we love you, you’re gonna be something special.’ I really like that.”
If the junior gave his pledge to Tennessee, he firmly believes he could make an impact sooner than later.
“I think about it, you know, I really want to play early,” Williams said. “I feel like I can compete if I come here. I really feel like I can compete for an early spot.”
Whether or not Williams will pick the Vols, nobody knows for now. However, it’s safe to say the Big Orange have positioned themselves quite well. Joined by Louisiana State and Vanderbilt, Tennessee has cemented itself in Williams’ top group. Thus far, he has found a lot of good qualities in Tennessee.
“I just got asked (what I like about Tennessee) today, like, ‘Is it the facilities or the coaching staff or the atmosphere?’ I like all of it, I like all three,” Williams said. “It’s very great up here. Knoxville is a great city, it’s all great. Facilities are top-notch, coaching staff is top-notch, atmosphere is top-notch.”
Scout rates Williams as the No. 13 safety and No. 227 prospect overall for the 2016 class. He plans on choosing a school May 2015.InsideTennessee managing editor Danny Parker contributed to this report.