A New Place of Comfort for Williams

The stress of the college recruiting process may weigh on some high school athletes, but four-star running back David Williams is not one of them. The reason? He already has been through a stressful recruiting process, and picked a school that suits him just fine.

PHILADELPHIA - Having stood since 1916 when it opened its doors as a boys' only school, West Philadelphia Catholic High School, or West Catholic to the locals, is a building full of character that sits on the corner of 45th and Chestnut.

With a school of about 360 students, the private school's motto is ‘united by faith, loyalty and knowledge' and was known throughout the state for its football excellence.

The Burrs had captured six straight Catholic League (small school) championships, won four straight city Class AA championships and won the PIAA 2010 Class AA state championship during a string of 10 straight playoff appearances.

It was the perfect school for running back David Williams, the 6-1, 185-pound star of the team, and his classmates. It wasn't the perfect school, however, for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Citing rising costs and low enrollment, the decision was made Jan.6 to close the four Roman Catholic high schools and close or combine 45 elementary schools, causing students, parents and faculty to wonder what was next.

"It was a weird situation for everybody," said Williams, who rushed for 1,936 yards and 18 touchdowns to help lead West Catholic to a 10-4 record and a trip to the PIAA Class AA semifinals last season. "It was tough for us to focus solely on football with all the other things going on."

But salvation came for those worried people when Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced on Feb.26 that all four high schools set to close in June would remain open. There was much rejoicing and the thought that the Burrs could get back to winning immediately, but Williams wasn't sold.

Although he admits to having a lot of friends and supporters at the school, Williams just didn't get the same fit and feel that he did prior to the announcement.

"It was tough because I really didn't want to leave, but I knew it was the best decision for me," said Williams. "The school really wasn't stable. Even after they declared it was staying open, my mom thought it would be best for me to leave. I wish they never would (have) announced it was closing because I would probably still be there today. "

Having made his decision, Williams began his recruiting process by taking a look at Philadelphia high schools Archbishop Wood, Cardinal O'Hara and Imhotep. Williams originally settled on Archbishop Wood until he was informed that his former coach - West Catholic coach Brian Fluck – wouldn't sign transfer papers for Williams to go to another catholic school.

Instead of viewing the block in a negative aspect, Williams saw the positive of what Imhotep presented him. It was a public school, meaning his coach wouldn't have to sign transfer papers, and that his new team would be coached by first year coach Albie Crosby, who was West Catholic's offensive coordinator and assistant coach for the last 11 years.

"I was pretty comfortable with him (Crosby)," said Williams, who said his new school will run a pro-style, run-first offense. "I had some other choices, but I did the best thing I could by going with the person that was there for me. He's the real reason I came here. He knows how to use me as a runner and how he can make me a better player."

Now Williams has moved to the northside of Philadelphia at the corner of 21st and Godfrey, approximately five minutes from his house, and is starting to settle in to a new environment.

"All the teachers know the situation that I am in, so they are trying to help me do the best I can do," said Williams. "I am comfortable here. A lot of my friends go to this school, so it's made everything go a lot easier.

The journey has made Williams' college recruiting process – what he calls his second recruitment – more than bearable. Williams has over 20 offers from some of the top programs in the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC and Notre Dame. Having referred to his high school recruitment as his ‘mock recruiting process,' Williams has not become overwhelmed by the process at hand.

"Some coaches have said that I made a great decision going through this process and I showed a lot of maturity," said Williams. "It's helped me take my time through this process because this process impacts me more than it impacts others. I don't want to rush into anything only to decommit. I want to go somewhere that I want to go."

And because of that, Williams has taken a painstaking approach through his process. At first wanting to make his decision before the season, Williams has decided to take his official visits before committing. He also plans to visit Miami, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, West Virginia and USC in the coming months, which adds visits Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State and Wisconsin.

Looking ahead to next season, Williams admits that he would love nothing more than to win his second state championship in three seasons and at his second school. But after everything he's been through, Williams is just looking forward to competing with a good group of teammates.

Just consider it another sign of Brotherly Love.

"We are real comfortable with each other," Williams said. "Everyone wants to compete with me because of my profile, so we are really getting after it. My goal is to stay healthy for my team and win another state championship."

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