I’m not saying it’s likely, but if Baylor wanted to hide Haason Reddick’s little brother, they’d probably name him Will Williams and stash him out in El Paso.
Williams, being from El Paso, is exactly the type of recruit that recruiting services are not designed to accurately rate. As Ian Boyd argues in the linked article, recruiting services (and to a large extent, CFB programs themselves) are not built to scout the entire country, so they tend to (understandably) focus on “recruiting hotbeds,” while effectively ignoring rural, hard-to-get-to locales with players who are even harder to evaluate. The downside of that approach, of course, is that you’re gonna miss that diamond if you’re digging somewhere else.
This is why Williams, despite being one of the best (if not THE best) defensive recruits Baylor has signed in the past four of five years, he was rated as a middling 3 star recruit. It is a shame for him, but a potential boon for Baylor.
Williams signed with Baylor back in December, and he committed to Baylor in June of 2018 after wowing Baylor coaches at a camp. During the signing day press conference, Rhule said that at that camp Williams was 200 lbs and ran a 4.4. Now, I automatically deduct at least 0.1 seconds from whatever a coach says about times, but even if Williams is running a 4.6 at that size, that is incredibly quick. His track times back that up, as he ran sub 23 seconds in the 200, and nearly breaking 50 seconds in the 400. Those are not crazy times by any means, but pretty good for a guy his size.
As most Baylor fans know, Matt Rhule’s Temple teams were known for their defense. In his 4 years at Temple, Rhule’s defenses were first led by Taylor Matekevich and then by eventual first round pick Haason Reddick. Reddick, despite only being 6-1 230 lbs, was a freaky versatile defensive end at Temple, rushing by OL to destroy the QB on one play and intercepting them the next:
Reddick was a particularly fun story for multiple reasons. First, he was a former walk-on. Second, he walked on as a safety, and then did not become a Defensive End (RUSH in the current parlance) until late in his Temple career. Since Rhule arrived at Baylor, many Baylor fans have thought, “If Rhule can turn a walk on safety into a first round pick, I can’t wait to see what he does with stud Texas recruits!”
Ever since Rhule got here, it’s been a common refrain for fans to wonder who is going to “fill the Reddick role.” Well, I think Baylor may have found their answer in Will Williams. Even if you’re not a “film person,” do yourself a favor and watch a minute or two of his highlights posted at the top of this piece. They are a tour de force of football skill, showing big hits, interceptions, and sound football play.
Because Williams played safety in high school, there are no highlights of him straight rushing the passer against offensive tackles. And it is possible that this article is totally foolish if Williams has no knack for beating offensive lineman and getting to the QB. But I really doubt that.
Williams’ highlights are replete with instances of him performing the variety of duties called upon to be a versatile RUSH defensive end. He’s never going to be huge, but let us not forget that Reddick was only 6-1 230 lbs. If he wanted to, I think Williams has the athleticism to play safety in the Big 12. But the best utilization of his athleticism and instincts might be to put him on the line of scrimmage.
Baylor put in some work to land Williams, with linebackers coach Mike Siravo making the trip out to El Paso in the Spring of 2017. That leg work might prove itself to have been mighty valuable, as Baylor may’ve found a piece to build around with incoming freshman Will Williams.