Apparently I woke up and it was late July 2006 again.
Willie Williams, the former Miami linebacker who was the subject of a large amount of discussion this summer, may just end up in a Louisville uniform afterall.
The top rated linebacker in the class of 2005 showed interest in transferring to Louisville after he was granted a release from Miami on July 11, but the Hurricanes refused to release him to the Cardinals since the two were set to play in the upcoming season.
The other Division 1 programs on Williams' short list were reluctant to take the surefire future NFL Draft pick largely because of a juvenile record that includes 11 arrests. Despite the fact that he was never in any trouble at Miami, and that the arrests should have never been public knowledge since they occurred before he was 18, Williams couldn't find a school willing to take him (Including the chicken shits over at Pearl City Community College) and ended up at West Los Angeles College.
Miami had issues releasing Williams' transcript (shocker), and he was forced to sit out the team's first five games. He recorded 13 tackles and blocked a punt in his first game on Oct. 21, and though he was only able to play in a total of four games, he drew rave reviews from WLAC Head Coach Craig Austin after the season.
"He's definitely going to be a first or second-round selection to play in the NFL, that's how good he is," Williams said. "He's an edge guy. He's a guy that will fly around and make plays, but he's at his best when he's rushing the passer and coming off the edge. He played some defensive end, outside linebacker and middle linebacker for us. In the four games he played I counted at least nine sacks. There may have been more."
Now the word out of Miami is that Williams will, or already has, committed to play for Steve Kragthorpe next season. If true, one would assume that he would likely start immediately for a defense that will have lost linebackers Abe Brown, Nate Harris and Preston Smith to graduation.
Williams hasn't been in any trouble since receiving his high school diploma, and I have zero problem with taking a kid who by all accounts has done a fine job cleaning up his act ala Nate Harris. This move will undoubtedly have other programs talking, but what we all need to remember is that we've taken on kids like Harris and Montrell Jones before, and the results have been exceptional performance on the field, and tremendous character off it.
Second chances are a good thing, and the folks receiving them are usually grateful enough that they take all the necessary precautions to ensure that the person or persons who took a chance on them end up looking good.
Taking Willie Williams is the right move.
Since Bobby Petrino announced he would be taking the Falcons job, several schools who had backed off of Illinois running back and Louisville commit Dale Martin have started to reapply pressure with the hope that Petrino's departure may result in him changing his mind. Kragthorpe met with Martin on Wednesday, and by all accounts he is still solid in his commitment to the Cardinals.
Martin, who committed to Louisville on Jan. 6, rushed rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior at Bolingbrook High School. He was also featured in a recent Chicago Tribune piece focusing on the trials and tribulations of recruiting in college football.
Some of these quotes are very reassuring.
Bobby Petrino, to whom Martin had committed to play for at Louisville a day earlier, was leaving to coach the Atlanta Falcons. You'd think Florida would have warning systems for this kind of squall.
"He told me he wasn't going to be going anywhere," Martin said. "Now two days after I committed, he was gone."
Martin, ranked the No. 4 prospect in Illinois by rivals.com, was told that Louisville still wanted him when Petrino left. It helped that new Cardinals coach Steve Kragthorpe retained most of Petrino's staff, and then made an in-person visit to Martin on Wednesday.
But while the Petrino departure stung for its abruptness, Martin had taken a route most savvy prospects apparently ought follow: He basically chose a program for every reason but the guy running it at the time.
"I was starting to get sick of all this and thought I finally had it done," Martin said. "But I didn't just [choose] there for the coach. I knew [Petrino] was a good offensive mind, but he's not only reason I chose there. There are a lot of other things I liked about the school.
"You can be there--you're committed, and then they leave while you're there, and then you have no choice, you have to stay. So you can't go anywhere just because of the coach. You definitely have to be happy with school and everything else."
Martin sounds like a very level-headed kid and I'd love to see him in red and black this fall.
Speaking of commitments and honoring or not honoring them, young Matt Simms visited North Carolina State this weekend and was shown sitting next to new Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien during ESPN's coverage of the NC State/Duke basketball game.
Other than that no new news out of Simms camp, besides his dad being dreadufully painful to listen to during the AFC Championship game.
According to Scout, Chaz Thompson, a three-star prospect from the College of the Siskiyous, has committed to Louisville. The 6-2/192 pound Thompson, who is billed as a lockdown defensive back, is off the charts athletically with a 4.39 forty time and a 39 inch verticle leap.
And finally we'd like to send our best wishes to the family of John Keye, a Kentucky commit who was killed in a car accident on Saturday. 18 is far too young.