Putting together a strong recruiting class in his first full year on the job is going to be vital for Will Muschamp at South Carolina.
So far so good for the Gamecocks.
According to the 247Sports rankings, South Carolina’s 2017 class is currently ranked No. 15 nationally and No. 8 in the SEC. The SEC ranking should tell you how deep the conference is and how tough it is to recruit for SEC coaches, especially when compared to South Carolina’s national ranking. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed with what Muschamp and his staff have been able to do so far on the recruiting trail, and that’s despite an underwhelming season on the gridiron.
Muschamp has always been known as a good recruiter, going back to his days as head coach at Florida, and he’s especially been successful when recruiting elite defenders. That trend has continued at South Carolina, with no commitment being more important than Jamyest Williams, a four-star cornerback from Loganville, Ga. (Grayson).
Williams is South Carolina’s highest-rated recruit at this juncture. He was undoubtedly a big commitment for the Gamecocks. According to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite rankings, he’s the No. 7 cornerback nationally as well as the No. 55 player in America. Williams is also the No. 5 player from Georgia, which is big news for Gamecock fans because the Peach State produces some of the best recruits in the country on a yearly basis.
For instance, five-star pro-style quarterback and Stanford commit Davis Mills is the top recruit from the state, and Georgia commit five-star safety Richard LeCounte III is No. 2. Previous elite recruits to come from the state include 2016 five-stars Derrick Brown (Auburn) and Mecole Hardman Jr. (Georgia), 2015 five-stars Trent Thompson (Georgia) and Mitch Hyatt (Clemson) and 2014 five-stars Lorenzo Carter (Georgia), Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State) and Nick Chubb (Georgia). Four-star Deshaun Watson — Clemson’s superstar quarterback — also hailed from Georgia, so Williams is definitely in great company being a top-five recruit within the state.
The fact that Muschamp and the Gamecocks were able to steal him away from the state was also a big deal. The Bulldogs were the other main player in the battle for Williams’ commitment, though he does have nearly 50 offers to his name, which is astounding.
Along with the Gamecocks and Bulldogs, just about every other major college football program in the country had offered Williams. Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, USC and Wisconsin, among many others, are on that list.
When discussing highly sought-after recruits, Williams certainly fits the bill. Again, all that does is highlight just how big of a recruiting win he was for South Carolina.
And we haven’t even mentioned his talent yet.
At the time of his commitment, here’s what ESPN Recruiting Analyst Tom Luginbill had to say about Williams, according to John Whittle of 247Sports.
“He’s one of the better pure football players of all the corners in this class,” Luginbill said. “He’s not blessed with the type of height or length that’d you want to see, but don’t let that deter you. He’s tough and physical. He has instincts, a high football IQ and ball skills.”
And yes, Luginbill hit it on the head. Williams is only 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, so he’s not necessarily an imposing figure as a cornerback. Then again, he does run a 4.37 40 according to his HUDL account, which is elite of the elite speed, and he’s a tremendous athlete and football player.
Case in point? Midway through his senior season, he’s already accumulated 700 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns, 35 tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions and a defensive touchdown.
South Carolina knows that when Williams hits the field for them, he’ll be able to do plenty of things — relying on both his instincts and his athleticism. As a defensive back he has coverage instincts and a quick break, and he plays the football well. If he gets his hands on the ball he’s a threat to take it to the house, and even at his size he’s a physical player who can come up to the line in press coverage or run support. He may need to work on bulking up a bit more in order to truly hang with some of the bigger receivers in the SEC, but the raw talent is there. Williams can be an effective kick returner for South Carolina and if Muschamp and his staff get really creative, he can be an occasional playmaker on offense — depending on how the Gamecocks use him.
Williams is simply an elite athlete and football player, and that can’t be coached. There’s a reason just about every school in the country wanted his commitment, and there’s a reason he’s South Carolina’s most important recruit.