Six months ago, it was looking like Ohio State would be bringing in a defensive end haul for the ages.
The Buckeyes were heavily involved with 5-star prospects Micah Parsons and Brenton Cox, as well as 4-star athletes Tyreke Smith and Jayson Oweh. Finding room for all four was possibly going to be a problem, but a problem that every coach would gladly sign up for.
Fast-forward to December, however, and Parsons stayed home at Penn State, and Cox did the same thing in Georgia. Smith and Oweh are still out there, with Smith the likeliest to become a Buckeye.
Right about this time, however, Ohio State also lost a pair of tight ends. Kierre Hawkins transferred to Youngstown State and A.J. Alexander’s OSU career came to an end due to injury.
So now the Buckeyes were headed for the early signing period with a need for defensive ends and tight ends.
Enter local prospect Alex Williams — a 6-foot-7 defensive lineman.
Williams, from nearby Pickerington North High School, was on Ohio State’s radar all season long, but Urban Meyer wanted to see how he progressed as a senior. Given the need, as well as Williams’ performance as a senior, Meyer finally decided to extend an offer.
“Yeah, he was one of those nights we came in and started — I wanted to see the Ohio guys, and I sat there and went through it myself over and over again, and this is right after I found out that A.J. Alexander was no longer going to be able to play football and Kierre made his move to move on, and we’re very thin at that position,” Meyer said. “And so I looked at the — I started watching him, and he’s a late developer player that I think he was hurt some of his junior year, and I like the fact he plays extremely hard and he’s a big athlete.”
The late blooming is something that Meyer sees every year from Ohio prospects, which is why he is not all that pleased with the early signing period.
Over the previous three classes, the Buckeyes signed Ohians Thayer Munford, Malik Harrison, Davon Hamilton, Rob Landers, and Brady Taylor due to offers late in the process. Every single one of those five names could be in the starting lineup next season, which is why Meyer is concerned that players like these won’t continue to stick around past the early signing period, choosing instead to play against Ohio State than for it.
Williams had been committed to West Virginia, so rather than wait to see if he would sign with WVU on the early signing period, OSU decided to offer him before a decision could be made. It obviously worked because Williams is now a Buckeye.
But where will he start his career? That has yet to be decided.
Where does Urban Meyer project eventually?
“Big athlete. I think he can do either,” he said. “I know there’s needs at both spots, but I don’t know, he’s just a big athlete. And you meet the young man, he’s a 3.8 GPA, he comes from an outstanding family, great high school program. That Pickerington football between Central and North and the rivalry there, that’s great football.”
[Alex Williams photo courtesy 247Sports.com]