Courtney Williams: A linebacker who can fly

WASHINGTON STATE likes linebackers who can flat out run. They'll be hard pressed to find a faster one than Courtney Williams, says his coach. The Los Angeles native stars in both football and track but this isn't a track star playing football. This is a linebacker who will chase anyone down.

Courtney Williams visited Utah State this past weekend. Today, he travels to Baylor. From there he heads straight from Waco to Washington State for the last of his official trips.

"I'm looking for the weather and I'm looking to connect with the team, the players on the team that are there now," said Williams. "And also just what they have in place academically."

The weather?

"Oh, well, I can deal with the four seasons," he laughed. "But I don't know about it being too cold."

Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State are all coming on strong but could be on the outside looking in with a week to go and his final visit already spoken for. Other schools that have shown interest, both early and late, include USC, UCLA, Washington, Utah, Wyoming and Nevada.

Williams has obtained a qualifying SAT score. His coach believes Williams' lone offer at this time, from Utah State, is due to a number of factors and is most decidedly a temporary situation about to change.

COMING INTO THE year, Williams was seen as undersized. Nowadays, he's seen as a linebacker who plays hard every single down, is an explosive presence on defense and oh by the way, he's fast. Scary fast.

"He's the second fastest guy in the state in the 400 meters," said Dorsey coach Ralph Caldwell. "David Gettis, our wide receiver is the two time state champion in the 400 meters. We like to call Courtney the fastest linebacker in the nation. He ran a 47.7 in the quarters."

"Going into the season, he was listed at 6-0, 190 pounds so big-time schools look at that and don't pay much attention. But the way he plays -- the explosiveness. He's deceptively strong. And he grew, he's 6-2, 205-pounds now. If he went into the season with those numbers -- 6-2, 205 going in -- then its a different story."

Dorsey's players also generally don't travel on official visits during the season and the Dons went all the way to the city championship this year. One week after the championship game, students went on a three week Christmas vacation. Tapes of Williams went out after Christmas break to the college coaches.

But when they saw Williams' tape, those coaches came a runnin'.

"Courtney really came on with a bang this year," said Caldwell. "Schools didn't expect him to have the year that he had. Once word got around on the season he had -- how he dominated, his ability to play out in space and rush off the corner -- Once word got around, everybody was coming to town."

Indeed. Caldwell said coaches were calling and flying out the very next day after viewing the footage.

"And head coaches were coming down," said Caldwell. "It wasn't assistant coaches, it was the head coaches."

Yesterday, Caldwell said four head coaches were on Dorsey's campus, including coach Bill Doba. Arizona was also there.

DORSEY HAS PLACED a number of players in Division 1 programs and the NFL over the years. Caldwell knew going in he had something special in his senior linebacker. The result was that college coaches were able to see Williams at his finest this season.

"That really excited a lot of the college coaches, said Caldwell. "They got a chance to see him play in space, covering people and blitzing...I designed the defense around him this year. I knew going in he was going to be the main focus. He did one heck of a job the whole season."

ON THE SEASON, Williams racked up 80 tackles -- 26 of which were sacks. Over the last two years, he tallied 41 sacks for Dorsey.

Dorsey assistant coach Carver Ruffaw told CF.C that his guy ran down everybody, giving offenses fits because the blockers weren't quick enough to get to him. Snap the ball, blow the whistle and back the chains up.

"FAST," said Ruffaw. "No, really fast. You can't run away from him."

Williams was named Los Angeles Defensive player of the year and Defensive Lineman of the year by The LA Times. He was also named to the Times All-star selections, which includes all of southern California, and was first team All-Region. And naturally, he was a first team selection in the rugged Coliseum league.

"Somebody is going to get a major steal," said Ruffaw. "Wherever he ends up, the teams in that conference that didn't recruit him? They're going to feel real bad."

DORSEY IS A well known football factory but Caldwell says it's still an inner-city school playing against the big boys -- a school that's seen it's share of players come out with less fanfare yet still make their mark at the next level and beyond. Caldwell and Ruffaw are both confident that Courtney Williams is primed to follow in their footsteps.

"Over the years, that's kind of the way its been at Dorsey," said Caldwell. "We're in the top 2-3 high schools who've put players in the NFL. Players like Na'il Diggs and Dennis Northcutt -- they didn't get a lot of the press as some of the other guys coming out of high school. And they had outstanding college and now pro careers. And Courtney is the next one in line."

  • Dorsey High has produced a number fine Cougars over the years, including one of the greatest multi-purpose threats in the history of the program -- the incomparable Bernard Jackson.

  • Coach Caldwell played under Bill Doba at Purdue. Doba was his linebackers coach.

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