Damon Williams couldn't pinpoint something that stood out about Tennessee after his latest visit for a junior day March 5. It wasn’t because he didn't like anything, though. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The Scout three-star running back couldn't find anything he didn't enjoy.
“(I liked) everything, to be honest," Williams said. "There’s nothing that stands above anything else.”
The Gadsden (Ala.) City High School star took his third trip to Knoxville in early March to get a look at the program away from the game day atmosphere of his previous two visits. The more calm environment gave him an opportunity to speak personally with running backs coach Robert Gillespie, who went over Williams' skill set and discussed where he would best fit in Tennessee's offense.
“Me and coach Gillespie, we talked more than we normally do," Williams said. "(He was) just wanting me to come here. He was asking me if I like the spread or running the ball up the middle. I like running it up the middle.”
Tennessee showed it's capable of doing just that in the Outback Bowl, switching at times from running out of the shotgun in the spread to under center for bruiser Jalen Hurd. Gillespie and coach Butch Jones and his class of 2017 target were both able to sit down with the No. 3-ranked Alabama running back, which left a lasting impression on him.
“It’s very easy, because they have more time to talk instead of worrying about what they’ve got to do on the field," Williams said of his visit on a non-game day. "Coach Jones said he loved me and loved my film, so that made me feel better about Tennessee to know the head coach loves what you do.”
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound back has registered 12 offers already is is most recently coming off visits to Alabama, Louisville and UAB. Williams plans to come back to Knoxville for both a spring practice and a camp as he begins to narrow down his decision. He also wants to go back to Tuscaloosa to see the Tide once more.
While there wasn't one specific amenity that stood out in his mind about Tennessee, he does know the main factor that he'll look for in a school at the next level. Finding a program that makes him feel relaxed around the coaches and teammates is paramount to landing Scout's No. 26-rated running back in the 2017 class.
“Wherever I come, whatever I see that makes me come basically," Williams told InsideTennessee. "If I’m comfortable and I like it, it’s just like that. I know if I get here I’ll be able to play. It’s about the atmosphere and the people around that make me a better player on the field.”