Charlotte, N.C. - Former Wisconsin running back coach Thomas Brown leaving to coach his alma mater appeared to be the worst thing that could happen in the Badgers’ recruitment of North Stanly (NC) New London tailback Antonio Williams.
Committing to the Badgers in December, the 5-11, 213-pound Williams – a top 200 recruit – referred to Brown as a “second father” and appeared to slightly reopen his recruitment when Brown left for Georgia after national signing day.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“It’s great being able to know all the coaches instead of just one, like I did with Coach (Thomas) Brown,” Williams told BadgerNation. “I talk to every one of them just about every day. That’s always better than just having that one.”
If there was any doubts about his commitment, Brown came to The Opening regional in Charlotte Friday in full Wisconsin gear. One of the biggest recruiting scores in recent UW history, Williams is ranked a four-star tailback, the No.11 tailback in the country and the No.172 overall prospect by Scout.com.
Having rushed for 5,849 yards and 58 touchdowns in his career, including 2,267 yards and 27 TDs a season ago, Williams feels he is only getting started.
“The same style of game play, just higher elevated,” Williams said when asked what people should expect for his senior year. “Just an extremely high level. I feel like I am faster and I know I am stronger than I have ever been. I feel like I understand the game a lot more through the years. I’ve gotten smarter with the game. I just feel like this year will be my best year yet.”
Williams committed to Wisconsin over offers from Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State and many others. While some schools have backed off, Williams said Alabama, Georgia, Louisville and North Carolina all dropped by his school recently.
“They’re still trying to get me,” Williams said with a smile.
What’s his response?
“I always tell them there is a possibility in me coming,” said Williams. “I just don’t want to shoot anybody down like that. You never know what could happen with me and Wisconsin. You have to have options, but right now I’m very solid to Wisconsin.”
Williams says he has no planned visits to any schools other than to Wisconsin, which he plans to take an unofficial visit to June 9-11 and an official visit for the Oct 3 Iowa game.
“I’m bringing my mom up to visit (in June),” said Williams. “She hasn’t visited. I’m going to try to be the tour guide.”
BadgerNation publisher Benjamin Worgull contributed to this report