This week I chose to check up on another under-rated recruit in the 2019 class. Evan Williams, the brother of current Illini football player Bennett Williams, plays for Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, California. He is rated as a 3-Star safety in the 2019 class by 247 Sports.
His physical tools might not wow individuals as he is only 6-0 and 180 lbs, however he makes this up with his high intellect and knowledge of the game. So far he has scholarship offers from Air Force, Columbia, Holy Cross, Illinois, Princeton, San Diego, and UC Davis. Don’t let these offers deceive you because I think he will be a gem just like his brother for Coach Lovie Smith. I spoke to him about his recruitment and where his interest lies with Illinois.
AS: Tell me about your game. What do you think makes you stand out?
Evan Williams: I definitely feel like the thing that separates me from others is my knowledge of the game. There are plenty of great athletes across the nation, but I feel like my instincts when I’m on the field are on a different level. I like to consider myself a student of the game. I love to sit down with my coach and watch film just so that I can pick up on a couple of things that’ll give me an edge come gametime. Whether it’s a change in formation or a small sign from the quarterback, I feel like the little things have the ability to change a game. Mix those instincts with a knack for coming down with the ball,when it’s in the air, I feel like that’s a pretty deadly combo.
AS: Which programs have stood out in your recruitment and why?
Evan Williams: To start out, I’d like to say that I definitely appreciate the opportunity to play at some prestigious universities and colleges. So far, Illinois, Columbia and UC Davis have stood out the most for me. Illinois has stood out because of the connection with my brother and because I’ve not only seen how great the town is, but also how the football program is growing. Columbia stands out because of the obvious excellent level of education and also the ability to play at a high level in the Ivy League. Finally, UC Davis has stood out because I’ve had the opportunity to see their great college atmosphere, they have recruited me pretty heavily, and because I can have the opportunity to play early in my college career.
In no way am I saying though that these are my solid top 3 colleges because I feel like there’s a lot of time for my opinion to be swayed one way or another.
AS: Are you thinking of taking any visits soon or over the summer?
Evan Williams: None have really been set in stone, but I’m considering taking a trip out to the East Coast to check out some Ivy League schools and maybe checking out some local Pac 12s like Stanford or UCLA.
AS: When are you thinking about a decision? Are you trimming it down first or just going straight to a decision?
Evan Williams: I definitely haven’t made up my mind about where I’m going yet. I’m in the process of trimming it down but there’s still a lot of time before I make a decision.
AS: Is your brother, who plays currently at Illinois, going to influence greatly or maybe just have some influence over your decision?
Evan Williams: There’s definitely some influence just because I’ve never played with him before. Being with him would be awesome, and I also feel like that’d be a great connection in the secondary if we could link up. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted to carve my own path to success, so there’s definitely a little contradiction there that I’ll need to settle.
AS: Who from the Illinois football staff have you been in contact the most and how is relationship with them?
Evan Williams: I’ve mostly spoken with Coach Nickerson but Coach Lovie Smith has also come by school before. We’re pretty tight. Coach Nickerson and my dad played football together back in the day at Cal, so he kind of has a connection to our family. I’ve also been around the Illinois program a lot so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to talk to both of them. It’s easy to tell how much knowledge they have for the game and to see how they plan on building the program.
Head Coach Lovie Smith has hit gold on a number of under-rated recruits in his short tenure at the University of Illinois. Many fans are wondering when that luck might run out. I feel confident that Evan Williams will keep that run going in the 2019 class. As you can tell by his answers, Evan really prides himself on being a true “student of the game”. He understands that to be the best one must really learn the game of football to the most minuet detail.
I haven’t seen Evan play in person yet but he really came off as a player that understands how to mask his weaknesses with his knowledge of the game and those are the players that are the most important to a championship winning team. He is very interested in going to a university where he gets a very prestigious academic environment and Illinois fits that bill. I think Illinois is in great position for him and I fully expect Illinois to land a commitment from him in the near future.