Class Impact: James Williams to Miami, Part Two

Class Impact: James Williams to Miami, Part Two

Stefan Adams
In a true shocker, 2021 American Heritage (FL) S James Williams shut down his recruitment ahead of schedule tonight, recommitting to the Miami Hurricanes.


The 6-5, 220-pounder is currently a consensus 5-star recruit in the national rankings. According to the 247Sports Composite, Williams is the #9 player nationally, #1 ATH in the country, and the #1 player in the Sunshine State. His commitment moves UM’s 2021 class to #11 in the class ranking on 247Sports and #10 on Rivals.


Recruiting Story

Well, who saw that one coming? 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 last month. Even though the campus was shut down, a trip to Georgia with his family this past weekend 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. Just a massive get for Diaz, safeties coach Ephraim Banda, and the rest of the staff.

Williams is now the 4th decommitment to return to the 2021 class, joining Chaminade-Madonna (FL) 4-star RB Thad Franklin, Plantation (FL) 4-star WR Jacolby George, and Miami Northwestern (FL) WR Romello Brinson. The Canes land a no doubt top 10 player in the country in Williams (#9 overall), with the last time UM signed someone that highly rated being in 2008 with LB Arthur Brown (#8 overall). Williams is also considered the best player in the state of Florida; the last time Miami signed the top player in the Sunshine State was back in 2004 with Carol City LB Willie Williams.


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 in 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.

Western played a lot of single-high safety coverages with Williams last year, 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.

In addition to in-game action, I’ve also seen Williams star at Paradise Camp the past two years despite being an underclassman going against some of the top talent both locally and nationally. As a junior in 2019, Williams recorded 62 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 6 INT, 4 PBU, 5 FF, 1 FR and 1 defensive TD in 10 games. The talented athlete also saw some time as a receiver on offense, posting 5 catches for 139 yards and 3 TD’s.


The Class

Williams’ commitment brings Miami’s class numbers up to 19 prospects overall and he is the second safety pledge in 2021, joining Miami Northwestern 4-star Kamren Kinchens. The Hurricanes took four safeties last cycle, leaving Miami in a strong position to only take players they believe to be elite prospects at this spot in 2021; they’ve done that by locking up both Williams and Kinchens.

Sources have told CIS in the past that UM would have been fine with just one safety in this class, so this likely puts an end to safety recruiting going forward. That’s probably just fine with the UM coaches considering the talent-level of the players they ended up with, and the only other realistic options on the board being Miami Palmetto (FL) 4-star Corey Collier and Franklin (MD) 3-star Daymon David. Sources tell CIS that Collier is likely to end up at LSU at this point, while David was always going to be a borderline take as an under the radar recruit from out of state, even though he had a lot of support coming from Banda.


The Team

At safety, the Canes only lose Robert Knowles from last season’s rotation, and return a senior Amari Carter, plus juniors Gurvan Hall and Bubba Bolden, with sophomore Keontra Smith moving to striker in the spring. While Hall is a returning starter, Carter and Bolden will seek to earn the starting job opposite Hall this fall, with freshmen Avantae Williams, Jalen Harrell, Keshawn Washington, and Brian Balom providing competition behind them.

Although he won’t be enrolling early, Williams is going to come to Coral Gables next season as probably 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. 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 (51)

Wow, some serious praise:


Fishbein thinks it is more likely Williams will end up following in the footsteps of former Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, a freakish 6-4, 238-pound do-it-all defensive talent for the Tigers who was taken with the eighth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Simmons lined up at linebacker, defensive end, cornerback and safety at Clemson.

“He’s that versatile. He’s a great prospect,” Fishbein said of Williams. “As long as I’ve been doing this, he’s the most talented kid I’ve seen come out of South Florida since (former Miami Carol City 5-star linebacker) Willie Williams. Now it’s up to him. We saw with Willie he had all the talent in the world, and he didn’t get it done on the field. James, if he could just get focused and play to his potential, you’re looking at a top-five pick in the NFL Draft.”
 
The Canes land a no doubt top 10 player in the country in Williams (#9 overall), with the last time UM signed someone that highly rated being in 2008 with LB Arthur Brown (#8 overall). Williams is also considered the best player in the state of Florida; the last time Miami signed the top player in the Sunshine State was back in 2004 with Carol City LB Willie Williams.
Christ let's hope he ends up better than those two did for Miami .
 
Our safety room is going to be insane. I was extremely happy with Kinchens, but you plug Williams in there along with Avantae, sheesh. The CB room has been a bit of an underperformer (hopefully that changes this year) but having stud safeties will make it easier on the CBs.
 
In a true shocker, 2021 American Heritage (FL) S James Williams shut down his recruitment ahead of schedule tonight, recommitting to the Miami Hurricanes.


The 6-5, 220-pounder is currently a consensus 5-star recruit in the national rankings. According to the 247Sports Composite, Williams is the #9 player nationally, #1 ATH in the country, and the #1 player in the Sunshine State. His commitment moves UM’s 2021 class to #11 in the class ranking on 247Sports and #10 on Rivals.


Recruiting Story

Well, who saw that one coming? 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 last month. Even though the campus was shut down, a trip to Georgia with his family this past weekend 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. Just a massive get for Diaz, safeties coach Ephraim Banda, and the rest of the staff.

Williams is now the 4th decommitment to return to the 2021 class, joining Chaminade-Madonna (FL) 4-star RB Thad Franklin, Plantation (FL) 4-star WR Jacolby George, and Miami Northwestern (FL) WR Romello Brinson. The Canes land a no doubt top 10 player in the country in Williams (#9 overall), with the last time UM signed someone that highly rated being in 2008 with LB Arthur Brown (#8 overall). Williams is also considered the best player in the state of Florida; the last time Miami signed the top player in the Sunshine State was back in 2004 with Carol City LB Willie Williams.


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 in 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.

Western played a lot of single-high safety coverages with Williams last year, 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.

In addition to in-game action, I’ve also seen Williams star at Paradise Camp the past two years despite being an underclassman going against some of the top talent both locally and nationally. As a junior in 2019, Williams recorded 62 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 6 INT, 4 PBU, 5 FF, 1 FR and 1 defensive TD in 10 games. The talented athlete also saw some time as a receiver on offense, posting 5 catches for 139 yards and 3 TD’s.


The Class

Williams’ commitment brings Miami’s class numbers up to 19 prospects overall and he is the second safety pledge in 2021, joining Miami Northwestern 4-star Kamren Kinchens. The Hurricanes took four safeties last cycle, leaving Miami in a strong position to only take players they believe to be elite prospects at this spot in 2021; they’ve done that by locking up both Williams and Kinchens.

Sources have told CIS in the past that UM would have been fine with just one safety in this class, so this likely puts an end to safety recruiting going forward. That’s probably just fine with the UM coaches considering the talent-level of the players they ended up with, and the only other realistic options on the board being Miami Palmetto (FL) 4-star Corey Collier and Franklin (MD) 3-star Daymon David. Sources tell CIS that Collier is likely to end up at LSU at this point, while David was always going to be a borderline take as an under the radar recruit from out of state, even though he had a lot of support coming from Banda.


The Team

At safety, the Canes only lose Robert Knowles from last season’s rotation, and return a senior Amari Carter, plus juniors Gurvan Hall and Bubba Bolden, with sophomore Keontra Smith moving to striker in the spring. While Hall is a returning starter, Carter and Bolden will seek to earn the starting job opposite Hall this fall, with freshmen Avantae Williams, Jalen Harrell, Keshawn Washington, and Brian Balom providing competition behind them.

Although he won’t be enrolling early, Williams is going to come to Coral Gables next season as probably 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. 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.

Stefan Adams take a bow
 
No way he doesn’t move to LB. that 6’5 is crazy. It wild we got him back into the fold. Coaching staff been working during this quarantine
 
No way he doesn’t move to LB. that 6’5 is crazy. It wild we got him back into the fold. Coaching staff been working during this quarantine
I think we have another Rousseau type of athlete. Get him here and he works out gains weight and next think you know he's a outside linebacker or defensive end
 
Wow, some serious praise:


Fishbein thinks it is more likely Williams will end up following in the footsteps of former Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, a freakish 6-4, 238-pound do-it-all defensive talent for the Tigers who was taken with the eighth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Simmons lined up at linebacker, defensive end, cornerback and safety at Clemson.

“He’s that versatile. He’s a great prospect,” Fishbein said of Williams. “As long as I’ve been doing this, he’s the most talented kid I’ve seen come out of South Florida since (former Miami Carol City 5-star linebacker) Willie Williams. Now it’s up to him. We saw with Willie he had all the talent in the world, and he didn’t get it done on the field. James, if he could just get focused and play to his potential, you’re looking at a top-five pick in the NFL Draft.”
Thats the thing with Ed Reed here he's going to make sure James Williams maximize his potential with mastering film study and making all these boys work
 
Playing single high safety with Williams let's you put a guy like Avantae at nickel in addition to whoever is at striker with 2 linebackers & 2 boundary corners. Or they could put williams at striker against the stronger run teams. This brings about so many possibilities to baker & manny to get creative. Please God let this Lashlee offense be legit cuz with freaks like JW & Leonard Taylor our future is bright.
 
I'm sure you didn't mean it, but Williams' mom isn't alive. Not the best joke.
Damn!! I did not know that. Was told by someone I trust. That dude is an asshole. Let me get on him. Or maybe i heard wrong.
 
This kid is a LB all the way. If he doesnt make the switch in coral gables, he'll be forced to make the switch when it's time to go pro.

Really excited to see what this kid can do!!
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
DT
6'4"
290
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL
WR
5'11"
160
Fort Lauderdale, FL

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2020 Schedule

09/10
UAB
Miami Gardens, FL
09/19
Louisville
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09/26
Florida State
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10/10
Clemson
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Wake Forest
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12/05
North Carolina
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