Williams Builds Solid Bond with New Staff

New London (NC) North Stanly running back Antonio Williams built strong relationships with the former coaching staff at the University of Wisconsin. Following his three days in Madison this past week, Williams says his relationships with the new coaches is even stronger.

A lot has changed at the University of Wisconsin since New London (NC) North Stanly running back Antonio Williams committed to the Badgers in December.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is Williams’ love for the University, the campus and the football program. Those thoughts and opinions were reignited this week as Williams made his first visit to campus as a committed prospect.

“I loved it up there,” Williams told BadgerNation of his four day visit to campus. “I’ve been waiting to get back. I just took advantage of the opportunity to get back up there.”

Williams never fully reopened his recruitment following the departure of head coach Gary Andersen in December or running back coach Thomas Brown in February. His decision to remain steadfast with the Badgers has been rewarded by developing relationship with the current staff that surpass the connections he had on Andersen’s staff.

“The new staff is a lot more down to earth,” said Williams. “They are more real. They tell you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear. A lot of guys fall in love hearing the good things about the school. That’s good to hear and all, but this new staff is going to tell you what you need to hear, they are going to tell you the real deal and they are not going to lie to you.

“I think that’s what appealed to me more to me than the old staff. That’s what I keep telling other recruits: these (coaches) are going to tell you what you need to hear.”

While the 5-11, 212-pound Williams referred to Brown as a “second father” from the time he started recruiting him, Williams is developing a similar relationship, if not better, with running back coach John Settle, who is also from North Carolina.

“Me and Coach Settle are extremely close, by the far the closest I’ve been with any coach,” said Williams. “In the time I was up (in Madison), I was with him every day and each day we got closer and closer. He got a lot closer to my family. I kind of feel he is another part of my family.”

Rated a four-star prospect, the No.14 running back and the No.217 prospect in the country by Scout.com, Williams did his best to play tour guide to his dad, mom and sister, who all came on the trip to get their first in-depth look at their son’s future school. They left all giving their seal of approval.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure where I was going the whole time, but I felt I got more comfortable with where I was at,” said Williams. “I know that will come over time. It felt good just to get them up here and have my mom feel comfortable about the whole situation.

“At first they were supporting me, but I don’t think they were as excited. Now that they’ve been up there, I feel like they are on the same page as me. They see why fell in love with the place.”

With his commitment firm, Williams has been able to devote much of his attention to improving his game instead of grinding on the summer camp circuit and traveling around the country for unofficial visits. Even after rushing for 2,852 yards on 226 carries (12.6 yards per carry) and 36 touchdowns this past season, Williams sees many areas to improve.

“I’ve been working on my hands and blocking,” said Williams, who also had 300 receiving yards. “Once I get to Wisconsin, from what they need from a running back, (bad hands and poor blocking is) a halt in the process as far as playing time. I feel like if I get those things down now, I’ll have a real good chance to get a whole lot of playing time my freshman year. If I get it down now, I feel like I’ll be set once the season is over and carry it over to Wisconsin.”

After visiting last November for the Wisconsin-Minnesota game, Williams hopes to take his official visit on October 3 for the Wisconsin-Iowa game.

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