Gentry Williams followed closely what LSU was doing in 2019 but didn't realize just how dominant they were until he saw the Tigers perform live. The 2022 athlete, who's turning heads all over the country because of his electric 4.3 40-yard dash speed, attended the LSU-Oklahoma Peach Bowl game and saw for himself.
Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his mother sprung the news on him Christmas Day that they would be driving to Atlanta for the highly anticipated matchup. The result was a 63-28 Tiger win over the Sooners that left an impression on Williams.
"It's a very business oriented program at LSU," Williams said. "They're trying to build a legacy at LSU and they want me to be a part of it. They have a great environment going on and it's just a great situation I'm considering to continue my academic and football career."
Oklahoma, Michigan, Georgia, USC, Ohio State and LSU are some of the big programs to offer Williams a scholarship at this point. Williams is currently ranked No. 9 overall in the country on 247Sports as an athlete, with schools primarily recruiting him as a defensive back at this time.
A dual sport athlete who also runs track, what's intrigued Williams early on about the recognition he's receiving is that he'll have an opportunity to run track and play football if he chooses the Tigers.
LSU made the offer to Williams on July 24, with the rising junior hearing of the news from his head coach at Booker T. Washington High School, Jonathan Brown, who knows LSU cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond really well.
"They're really good friends and I was able to get in contact with him [Raymond], we talked a bit and he threw me an offer," Williams said. "He liked my length and my size and then my overall speed that I can bring to the next level at an elite program like LSU."
Moving forward, Williams plan to keep an open line of conversation with the LSU staff and hopes to learn more about the program and meet with coach Ed Orgeron in the near future.
"Just seeing the lifestyle, how they live away from the game, how they're being treated, just everything," Williams said. "I want to know as much as I can about LSU because it's a program I'm seriously interested in."
On the field, Williams is an electric athlete who feels he's a very patient corner because of his dynamic speed.
"I try to let the receiver do what he wants to do moves wise before I really get into breaking and tracking the hips," Williams said. "It doesn't matter what kind of moves the receiver puts on me, I always try to keep them in front."
That speed really shows on the track field, where Williams runs the 200 and 400-meter dash. In the 200, Williams recorded a 21.09 second time, good for second in state. In the 400, Williams recorded a 47.6 second time and actually won state for the event.
In the offseason, Williams has really tried to improve his technique in both off coverage and press coverage situations. He knows that athleticism will only take him so far in college because there are players that are just as fast, if not faster.
"Reading my keys and really just coming up to my receiver with a plan are a few things I've studied and worked on," Williams said. "I want to attack my receiver with a plan every time I approach them. I train three times a week at the defensive back position just trying to perfect my craft."
While watching the Tigers and their elite defensive backs in person, Williams couldn't help but follow freshman phenom Derek Stingley, who was covering future first round pick CeeDee Lamb most of the afternoon.
That patience that Williams possesses as a cornerback is something he sees in Stingley, who runs as fluidly as any defensive back in the country.
"I watched a lot of Stingley and how he attacked CeeDee Lamb, especially with CeeDee being a top prospect," Williams said. "Playing defensive back, you don't want to open up the gates too fast, open up the hips and allow the receiver to just run right by you. We just want to be patient and read our keys because the receiver is going to tell you everything you need to know."