The nation’s No. 2 outside linebacker according to Rivals announced his commitment to the Tigers on Wednesday. He chose Auburn over Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss.
Auburn has been looking for a player like Williams to help breathe some life into the Tigers’ 2014 class. He’s the first high-profile pledge in the class, which currently has five commitments.
He also gives Auburn a nice win in Mobile, Ala., a city that is critical in recruiting for both Auburn and rival Alabama. Credit for landing Williams goes to Auburn co-offensive coordinator Dameyune Craig, a Mobile native who played quarterback at Auburn from 1994-97.
“My family knows Coach Craig well, I’ve known since day one I’d be playing for him,” Williams told Rivals. “He tells me everything, he tells it how it is from bad to good. The good outweighed the bad and he’s real. Ever since I told my family I was going to commit, they are thrilled with Auburn.”
And Auburn’s coaches will be thrilled to sell Williams’ commitment to other recruits.
The SEC has reached a level of competition in recruiting we’ve never seen before. Eleven of the top 26 classes in the country for 2014 are in the SEC. Auburn is ranked No. 22, which is good for eighth best in the conference.
The Tigers will need to land more players like Williams if it wants to stay competitive in the SEC. There’s reason for Auburn fans to hope that will happen.
Auburn landed several highly-touted prospects late in the 2013 recruiting class, including defensive tackles Montravius Adams and Ben Bradley and defensive end Elijah Daniel.
But Auburn will have to focus on keeping the commitment of Williams, who will continue to hear from other schools, including Alabama.
Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News recently compared Williams to a highly-touted 2012 prospect from Mobile, running back T.J. Yeldon.
Yeldon, who was ranked the nation’s No. 2 running back by Rivals, committed to Auburn early in the recruiting process. As Mr. Scarbinsky writes, there was plenty of excitement in Auburn when the Tigers landed Yeldon’s commitment.
“Williams might be the biggest name from the Mobile area to commit to Auburn since Yeldon. How did that turn out?
Yeldon was every bit as good as advertised, running for 1,108 yards as a true freshman. The trouble for Auburn was, he did it for Alabama after switching his commitment late in the fall of 2011 and then starting classes there in January of 2012.”
Auburn will work to make sure Williams doesn’t make the same switch. And he will surely hear from people telling him Alabama is a better choice than Auburn, especially if Alabama has another successful season in 2013.
Linebacker Reuben Foster and defensive end Dee Liner heard the same thing during last year’s recruiting season. They both switched their commitments from Auburn and signed with Alabama.
This doesn’t mean Williams will do the same. Craig’s presence will help, and the fact Williams has two friends – offensive lineman Joshua Casher and linebacker Deshaun Davis – already committed to Auburn should be an advantage for the Tigers.
Auburn will do everything it has to do to make sure Williams stays committed and signs with the Tigers. He’s that important.
Wiggins Watch continues
The nation’s top basketball prospect is still undecided.
Forward Andrew Wiggins from Huntington Prep is still considering the same four schools: Kentucky, Florida State, Kansas and North Carolina.
There continues to be doubt that Wiggins will choose Kentucky because of the depth of talent the Wildcats are bringing in this fall. Will Wiggins join a class with so many minutes and shots already handed out elsewhere?
Of course, the one coach who could convince a player like Wiggins to agree to such a deal might be John Calipari.
Kentucky also has the fortune of not having to sweat Wiggins’ decision. The Wildcats are already loaded, according to ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan:
“If Wiggins goes elsewhere, Kentucky will still be the SEC favorite and a national title contender, if not the favorite. If Wiggins does choose to join up — if he agrees to top billing in the ‘Kentucky signed Nos. 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 11 and 18 players in the class of 2013′ phrase you’d read a lot between now and November — then we have to recalibrate out expectations much, much higher.”
And that’s why there’s so much interest in Wiggins’ decision. He’s a terrific talent, but if he chooses Kentucky, a loaded team will immediately be given greater expectations.
Missouri headed to the Sunshine State
With Missouri’s entrance into the SEC last year, a new goal for the Tigers became to take advantage of recruiting opportunities in the Southeast.
With a wealth of talent available in the state of Florida, it appears Missouri has started to do just that.
The Tigers received a commitment last month from defensive end Rocel McWilliams from West Florida Tech in Pensacola, Fla. His former teammate, defensive end Nate Crawford, signed with Missouri in February.
“Nate was in my ear telling me that it was a good college and that they really liked me and that we could be the state of the d-line,” McWilliams told Rivals last month. “Then my parents were saying it’s a good college too and how much I’d been talking with Coach (Josh) Henson it just all came into place.”
Missouri hopes its success in Florida will continue. The Tigers have offered several other Florida prospects, including offensive lineman Josh Allen, linebacker Vincent Jackson and wide receiver Ryan Sousa.
As Missouri works to increase its level of talent in the ultra-competitive SEC, recruiting in one of the country’s most talent-rich states looks like a good idea.
Start recruiting early
It seemed hard to believe when word started to travel that Alabama and LSU had offered eighth-grade athlete Dylan Moses from Baton Rouge, La.
But the early offers from Alabama and LSU appear to have inspired other schools. That’s because Moses’ offer list has grown to eight. Florida, Ole Miss, Florida State, Nebraska, Texas and UCLA have all offered Moses a scholarship, according to 247Sports.
“It’s been crazy,” Moses told AL.com in April. “People have been calling me, asking me what schools I’m going to go to, how does it feel, interrogating me with all these questions and stuff.
“I try not to think about it. I have the same thing like Nick Saban says, 24-hour rule. I have excitement for 24 hours and then move on to the next goal.”
It has to excite LSU fans that Moses is already following Saban’s lead.
Meanwhile, Moses looks like a veteran recruit compared to the most recent prospect to pop up on Mississippi State’s board. It comes from the 2031 class, which means it hasn’t been born yet.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen signed a young woman’s ultrasound during a recent Bulldogs caravan stop. While an official offer hasn’t been extended (and a gender hasn’t been confirmed), it seems fair to say Mississippi State has established an early lead.