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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Thursday, February 1, 2007

By Sammy Batten

Offensive Analysis  •  Defensive Analysis  •  Thumbnails

QB's & Receivers  •  O-Linemen & RB's  •  Thumbnails

Rose's Williams still on course to ECU

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

The rumor mill can now be shut down in regards to Greenville running back Jonathan Williams.

Rose High School head coach Greg Thomas confirmed Wednesday that the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder is still firmly committed to the Pirates, despite an increase of attention from other schools since the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas in December. Williams rushed for 106 yards and scored a touchdown in leading North Carolina to a 23-16 win over South Carolina in that all-star contest, earning him most valuable offensive player of the game honors.

“He started getting a lot of calls after the Shrine Bowl,’’ Thomas said. “But East Carolina has gone after him really hard for a couple of years now. (Offensive coordinator) Coach (Steve) Shankweiler has really done a great job recruiting him. So, yes, he is still committed.’’

Williams made the Pirates his choice publicly on January 7 after making an official recruiting visit to campus. He was scheduled to make other trips to Clemson and North Carolina later in January. Both those schools had extended scholarship offers along with Maryland, N.C. State, Rutgers, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

Some of those schools continue to call about Williams, but haven’t been able to lure him away from the Pirates, according to Thomas.

Williams has been recruited to play running back at ECU even though he played there just one full season for Rose. But it was one impressive season.

During Rose’s run to a fourth straight state 4-A championship Williams rushed for 2,804 yards and scored 39 touchdowns. He capped his career by running for 93 yards and three scores in the Rampants 26-12 triumph over West Charlotte in the state title game.

Thomas ranks Williams right up there with the best who have come through Rose, comparing him favorably to N.C. State tailback Andre Brown. Brown set the state single-season rushing record (3,479 yards) and was named state player of the year by The Associated Press during Rose’s first run to the 4-A championship in 2003.

“He has unbelievable talent,’’ Thomas said. “He has the talent of an Andre Brown. He’s not quite as big, but he’s just as elusive, just as strong and has the speed. He has worked hard in the classroom, in the weight room and on the field. I really think he’s going to do a great job at the next level.’’

Williams could also be a fine safety on defense if things don’t work out at running back, Thomas said.

Safety is where Williams began his career on the Rose varsity as a junior. He spent his first two high school years at another Pitt County high school, South Central, which is located in Ayden.

Thomas knew nothing about Williams until he showed up at Rose during the summer before his junior year.

“We didn’t know what we were getting at the time,’’ Thomas said. “The kid just showed up at summer workouts and enrolled at our school. We just sort of started working with him from there.

“He worked hard, but we had our starting tailback returning at the time, so we put him on defense his junior year. I think that’s one reason not a lot of schools knew about him last year is because he played so much defense and didn’t carry the ball as much.’’

Williams still managed to rack up 1,509 yards and scored 23 touchdowns in that junior season. Defensively, he made 42 tackles, three sacks and an interception.

“If it doesn’t work out for him at running back he could definitely play somewhere on defense,’’ Thomas said.

But Thomas is confident that Williams can excel in the offensive backfield. He cites a play Williams made this year against West Craven as an example of why he feels that way.

“We were on our own 3-yard line and it was third down,’’ Thomas said. “We ran him off tackle. He broke about four tackles and went 96 yards for a touchdown. That showed how strong he is and how fast he is. He did a lot of that for us this year.’’

Williams is another addition to a bevy of backs the Pirates are assembling for the recruiting Class of 2007.

ECU also has verbal commitments from Daronte McNeil from Northeastern High in Ahoskie, Ben Herlocker of Charlotte Catholic High, and J.R. Rogers, a junior college player at Bakersfield (CA) Community College.

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02/23/2007 02:38:39 PM


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