Alabama Legacy and Elite 2022 WR CJ Williams Itching to Return to Tuscaloosa

Photo from CJ Williams' Twitter account (@CJWilliams_03)

Tyler Martin

2022 four-star wide receiver CJ Williams is technically a Tuscaloosa, Ala. native. 

After being born in the backyard of the University of Alabama, his family left the Yellow Hammer State when he was an infant and headed out west to California. 

Now, there is an opportunity to return to his birthplace and play for the Crimson Tide on the gridiron. His father, Shelby, played basketball at the Capstone. 

Back in December, Alabama coach Nick Saban and assistant Steve Sarkisian visited Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. and shared the good news with the 6-foot-2, 175 pound wide out.

"It was big time for sure to get an offer," Williams said. "I met Coach Saban when he was visiting Bryce [Young]. They had been actively recruiting so I had a feeling they might. I got pulled out of class and I was told I was getting one from Coach Sarkisian. It was a great experience." 

Sarkisian is Williams' primary recruiter, and his son, Brady, plays with him for the Monarchs as well. 

"We have a good relationship," Williams said. "I am really close to Brady. Me and Coach Sark talk often and talk Bama. He is good dude you know, he is an honest guy. He is doing big things with that offense."

The Crimson Tide coaching staff has been playing the legacy card when recruiting Williams. 

"That there is always a home for me at Alabama for sure," Williams said. "They know my dad went there and got his degree so it is important to us. They want me to go there and make a name for myself. They want to me to come down there and feel the environment and meet all of the coaches and build off of that."

During his sophomore campaign in 2019, Williams reeled in 50 passes from quarterback Bryce Young for 684 yards and four touchdowns. He was also named to the Trinity League First-Team on offense. 

Williams is rated as the 31st best overall prospect in the entire 2022 cycle by 247Sports.

"Coach Sarkisian loves the fact that, when I get on the field, I am a competitor," Williams said. "Coach Saban sees the physical aspect of my game and watched the film and tells me I am a dog. They like my football IQ too." 

While Williams and his immediate family left Tuscaloosa when he was essentially a baby, he still has extended family in the state. He has not been back since he was eight years old. 

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, he was set to make it down for the Crimson Tide's spring game, A-Day, but now that is cancelled, he plans on visiting during the summertime. 

The Golden State product says he is feeling no heat to commit to Alabama from his father or mother but it that extended family doing their best to recruit him. 

"They always tell me how big time Bama is and how great of a school it is," Williams said. "They grew up loving Alabama and I did too but I have to listen to other schools and do what is best for me." 

What about aforementioned Young's recruiting efforts? Could a reunion be in the mix for this duo down the road? 

"Yes most definitely," Williams said. "I have talked to Bryce and a couple times since he moved and he said he loves it out there. He is not pushing me but he tells me to recruit the school. He tells me if I do that and enjoy it there then we could team up and the rest is history. He has my best interest in mind for sure." 

Throughout his recruitment, putting his fandom for the Crimson Tide away has been tough for Williams but he is keeping his options open. 

"I grew up an Alabama fan," Williams said. "Nick Saban was like a god in our household. He was right there next to God. So seeing him in person was a big deal for me and I hold that close to me. But I have no favoritism toward any one school. I have many recruiting me and they all bring something different to the table." 

Of the schools recruiting heavily, Alabama is obviously up there, along with Notre Dame, Oregon, Arizona State, and Boston College. 

"I have a little bit of a messed up timetable because of some of the visits being pushed back," Williams said. "But I want to stay on track and make a decision before my senior season. I want to get it out of the way then to have fun during senior year and focus on my team and family."