Urban Meyer's Recruiting Magic Continues as He Flips Another
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After landing four verbal commitments in the span of five days, most coaches might want to take a little break and rest up a bit. Not Urban Meyer though.
After receiving commitments from Taylor Decker on Sunday, Joey O'Connor on Tuesday, David Perkins on Wednesday and Cameron Burrows on Thursday, news broke on Friday that Massachusetts linebacker Camren Williams had committed to Ohio State as well.
"It's official, I'm a Buckeye!" he tweeted for all to read.
Williams (6-2 215), had been committed to Penn State since March, but like others before him, he began to look around at other schools once the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke.
An impromptu official visit to Ohio State in December with his father got the ball rolling for Williams, and a return unofficial visit this week with his mother solidified him enough to make a commitment to the Buckeyes.
Williams is rated the nation's eighth-best inside linebacker by Rivals and chose Ohio State over offers from Penn State, Michigan and North Carolina, to name a few.
"I’m very excited for him. He’s a terrific young man, a terrific player," Catholic Memorial athletic director and football coach Alex Campea told the Boston Globe.
"He’s rethought the process and had a chance to visit Ohio State. It’s a great choice and I’m happy for him. He’s going to a top-notch school educationally, and athletically as well."
Williams becomes the fourth linebacker commit in the 2012 recruiting class. Because of his speed and athleticism, Penn State had even talked to him about possibly playing safety. It wouldn't have been too much of a stretch for Williams, because he's played just about every position in the back seven in high school.
"He's gone from playing corner to strong safety," Campea told the Altoona Mirror prior to Williams' senior season.
"Last year, he played strongside linebacker. Football coaches realize 'Where is Williams?', and we found out they all try to run away from him. This year, we're going to make him our Mike linebacker, so they can't do that."
Playing in the middle this past season, Williams tallied 119 tackles in nine games and was named his conference's defensive player of the year. He was also named to the Boston Globe's All-Scholastic team.
The Buckeyes certainly have openings at linebacker, losing starters Andrew Sweat and Tyler Moeller (a hybrid linebacker/safety), and the coaches are looking for immediate help from the group that they are currently recruiting.
"He feels he’s going to have an opportunity to play freshman year," Campea told the Boston Globe on Friday. "The opportunity to play sooner rather than later was very attractive."
The Buckeyes came on strong late in the game for Williams, and had to overcome the draw of quite a few other schools in the process.
Williams initially picked Penn State over Michigan, North Carolina, Maryland and Wake Forest.
The Wolverines were his favorite team growing up because his dad, former NFL'er Brent Williams, was originally from Flint, Michigan.
However, many thought he would end up at North Carolina, where his brother Brennan was an offensive linemen. Ultimately, of course, he ended up at Penn State.
When he reopened his recruitment, however, Meyer and his staff not only had to battle Penn State, but Williams would also have to be persuaded against choosing two schools that he already had a difficult time saying no to once before.
There were a few things going in Ohio State's favor, however. The first was their relentless pursuit of Williams. They contacted him every chance they could get. They let him know that he was a priority.
Another was that his father had played with the New England Patriots, and had some familiarity with Ohio State assistant coach Mike Vrabel, even though the two never played together.
Yet another was the fact that Meyer hired Everett Withers, who had just spent the previous season as North Carolina's interim head coach after spending three years there as an assistant.
He already knew Withers from the Tar Heels recruiting him, and received glowing reports from his brother, who played for him this past season.
Even though Ohio State came from the back of the pack, the level of familiarity the Williams family gained with the Buckeye coaching staff ultimately won them the race.
There could be more to come from Williams' Roxbury, Massachusetts high school, however. His teammate, Armani Reeves, is Scout's 6th-ranked cornerback prospect in the nation, and he made his official visit to Ohio State this past week.
Reeves (5-9 185) is currently committed to Penn State, but is obviously looking hard at his options. The way the momentum is building for Ohio State, it's not a stretch to imagine Reeves in this class as well. But his timeframe will likely be somewhat different than Williams' was.
"Armani’s situation is a little different than Cam’s," Campea told the Boston Herald. "He’s been tied up with basketball, but I do expect him to make a decision before February 1st."
Williams' commitment gives Ohio State 23 players in the 2012 recruiting class, with the possibility yet of adding as many as four or five more.
Rivals currently ranks Ohio State's class as the third-best in the nation, behind Alabama and Texas, who each have a larger class than the Buckeyes. The class is also ranked third by 247Sports, and fourth by Scout.
ESPN ranks the class—and don't be shocked by this—eighth in the nation.
Scout: 4-star; 16th-ranked OLB; 172nd-ranked player overall.
Rivals: 4-star; 8th-ranked ILB; 167th-ranked player overall
ESPN: 3-star; 47th-ranked OLB
247Sports: 4-star; 15th-ranked OLB; 174th-ranked player overall.
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