2021 Signing Day Profile: S James Williams

2021 Signing Day Profile: S James Williams

Stefan Adams
2021 American Heritage (FL) S James Williams signed with the Miami Hurricanes today.

The 6-5, 220-pounder is currently a consensus 5-star recruit in the national rankings. According to the 247Sports Composite, Williams is the #13 player nationally, #1 S in the country, and the #4 player in the Sunshine State.

Recruiting Story

Williams grew up a big Hurricanes fan and originally committed to Miami during his freshman year in March 2018 on a junior day visit just two months after receiving his offer. Despite soon receiving attention from college football powers around the country in LSU, Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, and UGA among others, Williams stayed loyal to Miami for over a year, even through the Mark Richt-Manny Diaz transition.

However, in May of 2019, Williams decided he made his choice too soon and backed off his UM pledge. While Miami had always remained in the mix for Williams since then, he surprised in February 2020 by eliminating UM from his top three group. From there, everyone in the recruiting industry projected Williams to end up at Georgia, which absolutely coincided with the local buzz around town. Miami never gave up on Williams, though, and the Canes clearly made some headway during the quarantine, as he announced a top two of Miami and UGA in June. Even though the campus was shut down, a trip to Georgia with his family in late July seemed to convince Williams the Peach State actually wasn’t for him, as he gave his commitment to UM just two days later even though he originally wanted to decide in December.

The Player

The word “freak” often gets overused when describing recruits, but Williams lives up to the billing in every way imaginable. To paraphrase from a great football film: “He makes other athletic players look… not athletic.” Unique body type at 6’5” 220 pounds – long and built, but not overly burly – that still retains the speed of a much smaller player. Physically overwhelming for most receivers and it’s really not even fair in most matchups. Can do it all in coverage - zone, man, at the boundary, over the slot - and sports impeccable ball skills as well. Will win the vast majority of 50/50 contested balls through his sheer physicality alone. A monster hitter and an intimidating presence on the back-end of a defense; also shows great range and can cover a lot of ground in a hurry to make a play. Demonstrates the IQ to read a QB’s eyes and bait him into mistakes. Great feel for timing up his blitzes. 5 forced fumbles last season proves he’s an opportunist when it comes to lazy ball-handlers and has enough awareness to rip it away from his opponent. One of the most versatile players I’ve ever watched in high school. A gem of an asset that will excel both deep in coverage and in the box at the next level.

Williams has played a ton of single-high coverage in his career, so he’s not lacking any confidence and is comfortable truly being the last line of defense. You see Manny Diaz go to that look often for the Canes, allowing him the flexibility to become more multiple on defense in terms of the looks they can throw at offenses. Miami can leave Williams back deep on his own and can trust him to play centerfielder for them if they so desire.

The comparison that gets thrown around a lot with Williams is former Clemson hybrid LB/S Isaiah Simmons (first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft), which is a natural assessment when looking at their body types and playing styles. During his time at Clemson, Simmons was noted for his positional versatility, taking snaps at linebacker, defensive end, and cornerback in addition to safety, and that’s something that many have been similarly projecting Williams to do at the next level. Some say Williams fits best as a future striker instead of at safety in Miami’s defense; while that will depend on if his hip fluidity and foot speed diminish if he keeps growing, I think it’d be a mistake to box Williams into one position in college at this point. He’s best used as a chess piece all over the field for a creative defensive coordinator to force the opponent into matchup nightmares across the board.

The Team

Williams is the second safety signee in 2021, joining Miami Northwestern 4-star Kamren Kinchens. At safety, the Canes could lose Bubba Bolden and Amari Carter over the offseason, which would leave Gurvan Hall as the only experienced returnee that’s seen meaningful time at safety. Brian Balom saw most of the 4th string reps this season, with fellow freshmen Jalen Harrell and Keshawn Washington seeing mostly mop-up duty. Avantae Williams is expected to be healthy and return from his season-ending ailment in 2021 as well to add more depth to the position group.

Redshirt Probability: 1/10

Although he won’t be enrolling early, Williams is going to come to Coral Gables next season as possibly the player with the most raw talent on the entire roster. Simply put, it’s going to be hard to keep him off the field in Year 1 if he shows even a modicum of understanding of the defense, and he certainly has the ability to be a situational player at minimum and is versatile enough to slot in at a few different positions. If he can reach even close to his ceiling, Williams has the chance to be a three and done, All-American type player at the U that projects as a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft.


Comments (26)

I was sold from jump but watching the HS in game updates on the Recruiting board when this kid was playing was a sight to behold. Just update upon update of this kid dominating every game from the Safety position. I couldnt refresh fast enough! I laugh at posters who say he cant play Safety here. LOL. I immediately know that they never went to the Recruiting board during Friday games ever.
Congrats on this great get by the U!! but Man i feel like all we have are strong safeties! No real ball hawks just in the box safeties
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He a true ball hawk ? Like the tape reminds me of gurvan hall

Kinchens has been one of my personal favorite local prospects since 2018, and if you turn on the tape, it’s easy to see why. A regular at providing exciting, game-changing plays, and he is the definition of a true ball-hawk. The rare type of safety that has the ability to lock the offense out of all parts of the field in coverage. Ball skills are so potent that any QB absolutely must account for his whereabouts on each play; 11 picks in 2019 was one short of Jaiden Francois’ 2018 record in Dade County.
From the Herald tonight - really nice story with pics of him and his grandmother

The emotions hit James Williams shortly after he sat down.

He looked at his grandmother, Ira Williams, and watched her eyes tear up as he said a line he had hoped to say for years.

“I’m James Williams,” he said, “and I’m signing with the University of Miami.”

2021 Commits

Fort Lauderdale, FL
Miami, FL
Miami, FL
Miami, FL
Miami, FL
Miami, FL
Hollywood, FL
Frisco, TX
Melbourne, FL
Miami, FL

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