Williams finds right time to make commitment

It was a nice situation for Nate Williams. With one game at Husky Stadium he would be able to see two teams that were heavily recruiting him; Washington and UCLA. And with a Washington offer already in hand, the Burien, Wash. athlete was taking his time, seeing what other schools would do as he racked up yards and touchdowns during his own season.

That all changed in a big way Saturday, when Nate verbally committed to the Huskies after UW defeated UCLA 29-19.

"The game played a big part in me finally making up my mind," Williams told Scout.com. "The way that they performed and the way that they rallied around each other and came back and won against a great team in UCLA...just the whole atmosphere of the place. It's my home town, so I'm going to feel comfortable here. I know the area well. The coaching staff is great. They seem like people that I can get along with for four or maybe five years. Everything at Washington felt right and it was the right time to make the choice."

Williams was not aware of any other players making verbal commitments to Washington on Saturday. He was there with Lancer tight end Everette Thompson and offensive lineman Mike Vigil, both juniors, as well as senior quarterback Bobby Gentry. "It looked like they were having a good time too.

"I was watching the game and the atmosphere hit me. I knew it was something I want to be a part of in the next couple of years. I don't see nothing but good things happening to Washington over the next couple of years. They are definitely on their way up there."

According to Kennedy Head Coach Bob Bourgette earlier in the recruiting process, the Bruins had verbally offered Williams, but Nate confirmed that they never backed it up with anything in writing. But that hadn't lessened his interest in UCLA...at least until Saturday night.

"When I woke up yesterday, I thought it might be the day," he said of his commitment. "I kind of wanted to see how they would play against UCLA, because that was one of the teams that I was considering. That played a part, and when they won...they played a great game. It really finalized during the 3rd and 4th quarter when they started to come back and rally around each other."

But the magical day didn't start that way. It was more like a nightmare, with Washington have negative yards offensively in the first quarter. "I won't lie, it was really shaky," Williams said. "I thought they might get blown out. It was 16-7 at half and it wasn't looking good. I was thinking that Coach Willingham was going to have to go in and say something to his guys, and I guess that's what he did."

But then the defense kicked it into high gear in the second half, and the crowd responded in kind. "It was passionate and so loud," Williams said of the Husky Stadium crowd. "When I'm out there playing I never hear the crowd; I just get into my little zone out there. But the quarterback for our team, Bobby Gentry, said that it's so loud I wonder if I would be able to hear anything. I thought that too. I don't think I've ever been anywhere louder, except maybe Seahawks Stadium (Qwest Field). Just the way the team rallied around each other and didn't let up, they came out on top."

With his mind made up, Williams sought out the coaches. Most would want to commit right away to the head coach, but Williams had something different in mind. "The coach I wanted to commit to was coach (Chris) Tormey," he said of the Huskies' recruiting coordinator. "Every time I saw him he would ask me if I was ready to become a Husky, and I would say, 'Not yet, give me a couple more weeks', and he would say, 'That's fine, take your time'. He used to tell me that one of these days he was going to make his day and tell him I was going to be a Husky, so I wanted to make sure to tell him first.

"He shook my hand and gave me a little hug and said how great it was. I could tell that he was really excited. And then I went around to Chris (Izbicki), Quinton (Richardson) and Vonzell (McDowell) and they all asked me if I had committed and I said yes. They were all happy."

Williams will already have friends around him when he hits Montlake next summer. McDowell ironically met Williams and became friends at a UCLA camp they both attended earlier in the summer. He's known Washington-bound Emeka Iweka for a long time through basketball circles.

So the next question is; what side of the ball will Nate play on? He's been a four-year starter for Bourgette on offense and defense. "When coach (Tyrone) Willingham offered me in August, we asked him where they were thinking about putting me, and he said that they were recruiting me as a running back/safety," Williams said. "I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I think that means I'll have a shot at both, and wherever the team needs me at, I think that's where they'll put me. I can do one just as good as the other."

He added that he would love to be able to see time as a true freshman and that he prefers running back, but doesn't have a problem at all with playing safety.

Now that he has a big decision out of the way, Williams is even more determined to put forth his best effort in helping the Lancers win a class 3A championship title. In their opening game of the season, Williams had 182 yards and four touchdowns against Roman Pula and Lincoln. Their next victim - Marist from Eugene, Ore. at Husky Stadium - Williams ran for 159 yards and four more scores in two and a half quarters. "I had pneumonia, I was pretty sick in that game," he said. Kennedy's next opponent was Lindbergh and Williams had only had six carries in the blowout for 82 yards and four more scores. Against Hazen this past Friday, Williams had 200 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns.

"We're just looking for good things to keep happening so we can accomplish our goal of winning state," he said.

The veteran has seen just about everything at the high school level, and he's peaking out his prep game at just the right time. "I have been at it for four years, and not a lot of kids can say that," Williams said. "I feel personally that I'm in the best shape I've ever, ever been. I think that's really helped me out the most. My legs feel strong. With 28 carries, I still think I can give 100 percent, even in the fourth quarter. I've been lifting weights during the season, which is something I haven't really ever done before. That's been helping me out lately."

So now that Williams is set to trade in the red, white and blue of the Lancers for the purple and gold, will he also try and help sell the Husky experience to other recruits? "Of course I would want as many good players up there that I could, just to make the team good," he said. "I think every player would tell others to come play for a team like Washington. But coaches specialize in that and they know the right things to say. But at the same time, I'd put my two cents in."

And if Williams' college career mirrors that of his prolific prep pursuits, that 'two cents' just might end up being money in the bank for the Washington Huskies.

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