Rufus Volunteers Commitment

Defensive end prospect Rufus Williams of Titusville, Fla., has developed quite a reputation at Astronaut High School for rushing quarterbacks, and this week he blind sided Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer by volunteering his commitment.

After all, Fulmer was just calling Williams to confirm a date for his official visit to Tennessee, when he got the answer he was looking for before he even popped the question.

"I think I surprised him a little," Williams told's Yancey Porter. "He was calling to confirm my visit on December 10th, and I told him yeah I was coming but I also wanted to commit. Coach told me that was the best news he had heard in a while."

If Fulmer reacted like a fisherman who has a big bass jump into his boat before he has even baited his hook, it's understandable. Williams is having a outstanding season and has led Astronaut High School to a 7-1 record.

"I have 13 sacks for negative 115 yards," Williams said of his stellar senior campaign. "Right now I have 75 tackles, 13 sacks, one fumble recovery for a 58-yard TD and like 28 QB hurries."

Regarded as one of the top defensive prospects in the central Florida region, Williams recorded 87 total tackles, including 35 for negative yardage and 14 sacks as a junior. He originally committed to Ole Miss in June, but later reopened the recruiting process. He made an unofficial visit to Knoxville for the Florida game last month. Ultimately, he chose Tennessee over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, North Carolina State and West Virginia.

"I could tell they wanted me more than everybody else," he said when asked why he chose the Vols. "Coach (Matt) Luke sent me handwritten letters every day, I mean every day. And they treat me like a person, not just some football player."

The Vols' intense interest underscores the fact Rufus Williams is SOME football player. Just as Coach Luke's hard work in gaining a commitment confirms he is a some recruiting coordinator.

"Coach [Matt] Luke is my recruiting coach," Williams told Porter. "I like him. Every time we talk, he makes me laugh. I have built a good friendship with him. Tennessee is a real good school. They produce a lot of good athletes."

At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds with 4.70 speed, Williams is an athlete who plays outside linebacker for Astronaut in addition to pulling significant reps in the trenches. He'll be a defensive end at Tennessee where he will join fellow Florida native Gerald Williams (no relation) as bookend rookie pass rushers.

As exciting as that may be, Williams is currently focused on finishing strong. Astronaut plays Cocoa on Friday for the District title and end the regular season against rival Titusville High School.

"We have to win that game," he said of Friday's title showdown. "It is for all of the marbles. But after them, we got our crosstown rivals, Titusville. We will be well prepared for the start of the playoffs. That is for sure."

As well as things have gone for Williams this season, he believes the best is yet to be.

"Right now, I still do not think I have played my best game," he said. "But I just have a lot more knowledge for my position now. I can tell if it is going to be a pass or run by watching the guards now. All of those little things add up."

Former Florida running back Eli Williams (no relation) is an assistant coach at Astronaut and offers the following appraisal of Rufus.

"He's a player. He's a pretty big guy who is really quick off the ball and has strong hands. He can run for a big guy. He's solid, too. I'd say that he reminds me a little of Mark Campbell. He's quicker and faster than Campbell, but he's not as strong. We played him down at defensive tackle, but he'll probably be an end at the next level. And he's qualified."

In that respect Rufus Williams has already surpassed Gerald Williams.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories