Committed Over: A former North Carolina commit, New London (NC) North Stanly junior running back Antonio Williams committed to Wisconsin over a final group that included Auburn, Duke, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Ohio State. He also held offers from Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, NC State, South Carolina and Wake Forest.
Rated: Williams is currently a four-star prospect and ranked the No.3 running back in the south, No.10 running back in the country and No.100 overall prospect nationally by Scout.com.
On Film: Williams is a special football player. He has a great combination of size, power and quickness. Williams is a patient runner with great vision. He also has great instincts and shows the ability to run between the tackles or bounce the play outside. When he gets one-on-one with the defender, he is able to make them miss or run over them.
Like all players there are some areas where he can improve. The main part of his game where he can improve is his speed. He runs well, but needs to continue to work on his breakaway speed. Other areas include pass blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield. These are not weaknesses, just things he hasn’t been asked to do much at the high school level. However with his work ethic and the coaching he will receiver at the next level, I expect Williams to improve on all of the things very quickly once he gets to Madison.
Overall, Williams is a huge pickup for the Badgers. Not only is he a great football player, but he’s also a great person. He is a high-character kid that will represent Wisconsin well on and off the field, as well as a player that fans will love. Williams also has one of the best work ethics I’ve ever seen at the high school level and is relentless in his preparation. He will make an impact as soon as he gets to Wisconsin, and I expect him to become a big-time player for the Badgers. – Scout.com Regional Recruiting Analyst Michael Clark.
Recruiting Impact: One of four 2016 tailbacks who has a Wisconsin offer, Williams is the first big domino to fall in what would be Andersen’s third full recruiting class. Right now, unofficially, the 2016 class will have 19 scholarships available if Melvin Gordon doesn’t return, meaning UW would have room to take another tailback next season. The other three – five-star Kareem Walker, four-star Robert Washington and three-star Elijah Holyfield – have all had varying early interest.
And while Williams won’t be coming to campus until fall 2016, he could easily impact Wisconsin’s decision on whether or not to take two running backs in this class. Davon Crookshank (Missouri City, TX) has been committed since the summer, and UW has been pushing hard to get another tailback in the mix. With available scholarships dwindling, UW might consider focusing on another position of need – OL, WR, DB – instead of a second back.
Quotable: “I think I am very good keeping my shoulders low and position wise I am good at keeping my shoulders up. I’m very powerful. I think I have good strength, but I think what I need to improve upon is what any high school running back needs to improve upon, and that’s blocking. I have pretty good hands, but blocking and getting a little bit faster.” – Williams.
Final Thought: Wisconsin hit a home run 19 months before the 2015 national signing day when quarterback Austin Kafentzis pledged to the program, giving the Badgers an elite player UW could build its recruiting class around. The same thing applies here with Williams, who is an elite tailback after rushing for 2,852 yards on 226 carries (12.6 yards per carry) and 36 touchdowns this past season. Throw in the fact he also had 300 receiving yards, Williams presents himself as a solid prospect.
Williams was one of the top guys on the Badgers’ recruiting board and were able to lock him up early based on the relationship he developed with the coaches and how UW likes to use its tailbacks in the offense. It also doesn’t hurt that Gordon has run for a boat load of yards this season, showing runners how success they can be working behind that big offensive line in front of them.
And while he has already committed and de-committed from a school once, I expect him, baring a coaching change, to be locked into Wisconsin until February 2016 when he can official sign his national letter of intent. What a home run for the Badgers.