Avantae Williams Discusses Signing With Miami Over Florida

Credit: Zach Goodall - Sports Illustrated Media

Zach Goodall

DELAND, Fla -- In a bit of a surprising turn of events, Deland safety and top prospect in the 2020 recruiting class Avantae Williams has signed with Miami. 

Previously favored to make the trek west to Gainesville for his college career, Williams chose the Miami hat during his signing ceremony on Wednesday.

"Basically, the relationship with the coaches," Williams told the media of what went into his decision. 

"I have a great relationship with [co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Ephraim] Banda, [head coach Manny] Diaz, [director of recruiting David] Cooney, everyone on the defensive staff. Everyone overall, I have a great relationship with them. It was a gut feeling I had. I felt like that's where I needed to be, so that's how I made the decision."

Williams had previously committed to Miami from February 2017 until May of 2018, briefly committing to Oregon during his time between pledges to the Hurricanes.

Yet, Dan Mullen and the Gators made a late push for the in-state safety, only to be left hanging on Signing Day.

"We were close," Williams said of Florida.

Williams visited Florida officially on January 24th, one of several high-profile visitors that weekend. He got to spend time during his visit with his cousin, former Miami and current Florida running back Lorenzo Lingard. 

Yet, Williams made it clear that he wasn't making his choice based on Lingard's recent transfer.

"I'm my own man, that's one thing I'm going to say," Williams spoke of Lingard and the connection to Florida. "I'm my own man."

At the end of the day, Williams' decision was shocking but respectable given his tight relationship with Miami's coaching staff. For Florida, however, Williams' decision marks yet another signing day whiff during the 2020 cycle.

Previously, Florida had hats on the table for highly-rated prospects such as running backs Jahmyr Gibbs, Ashaad Clayton, and E.J. Smith, defensive lineman Timothy Smith, defensive end Donell Harris, and wide receiver Sam Brown - only to be left empty-handed.

Landing Williams, considered the No. 2 safety in the nation by the 247Sports Composite Rankings, could have erased Florida's closing issues, at least for the 2020 class. Instead, the Gators are left with a really good haul, but it feels incomplete.

"My heart, this is where I want to be at," Williams said of his decision. "This is where I felt was best for me."