Tulsa native Gentry Williams is no stranger to hype.
As a freshman in 2018, he quarterbacked Class 6A powerhouse Booker T. Washington to the state semifinals… and won a state track title in the 400 meters.
In 2019, he helped the Hornets return to the state playoffs, this time contributing as a cornerback in addition to taking the snaps.
Here in 2020, Williams is far and away the state’s most highly regarded prospect in his class. And it’s really not hard to understand why - how on earth can a high school defensive coordinator be expected to scheme for a track star playing quarterback?
The 4-star 2022 recruit is a crucial target for the Sooners, who have historically put great emphasis on making a clean sweep of elite in-state prep talent. But Williams isn’t looking too far down the road just yet. In a state that’s historically quite competitive on the high school gridiron, he’s focused on leading the Hornets to a state championship.
“It’s tough every week,” he told SI Sooners. “You really don’t get an off week. You’ve gotta come out and play every week and prove why you’re the best; that’s what everybody’s trying to do out here in Oklahoma.”
It’s become rather evident that Williams is certainly the best, at least among individual performers in the state. It’s not common to see a signal-caller turn around and contribute as a defensive back, and Williams says that playing one position bolsters his skills at the other. It’s a sort of symbiotic relationship — being a quarterback enables him to better defend opposing quarterbacks, and being a cornerback helps him to pick apart the opposing secondary.
“Especially in the film room, they help each other a lot,” Williams said. “As a DB, I know where I need to play a receiver, where most quarterbacks can’t throw in a window. So it definitely helps.”
Though he’s an avid student of the game, Williams has the type of freakish athleticism that sets him apart intrinsically. Nevertheless, he doesn’t rely primarily on his mobility when he’s behind center, instead utilizing it as a fall-back when his options are limited.
“Obviously as a quarterback, you want to get the ball into your playmakers’ hands, but being a playmaker yourself helps as well,” Williams acknowledged. “So when the pocket breaks down, we still have an opportunity to go make a play. That’s my mindset as a quarterback.”
By his own evaluation, though, Williams’ ability to see the field is what makes him the player he is.
“I feel like my vision when I have the ball in my hands,” said Williams. “Being able to go zero to 60 in such a short amount of time, I feel like not a lot of people can do what I do on the field with my vision and speed.”
Williams is earning looks from high-end FBS programs as both a quarterback and a defensive back. He’s got the tools to play either position — or both — at a very high level. However, he’s not allowing the possibility of a two-way career to enter his head, and said that eventually he’ll choose one side of the ball to focus on.
“When you get to the next level, you don’t want to be good at some positions — you want to be great at one position,” Williams said. “And that’s kind of been my mindset. When I get to college, I want to be great at one particular position.”
Oklahoma is currently one of a dozen FBS schools with a standing offer to Williams. Michigan, USC, Georgia and Baylor are among the other suitors, and there’s sure to be a myriad of others in the future.
“A school that stands out to me is a school that’s very family-oriented,” Williams said. “Somewhere I can call home, where I can grow on and off the field. Becoming a better man is obviously the goal for me.”
But until he reaches collegiate age, Williams has more immediate goals in his sights. As the state’s premier 2022 high school player, he’s got a target on his back week in and week out. And as he leads Booker T. Washington into battle, he’s constantly on a mission to back up the buzz.
“When you’re being highly recruited, you want to show why you’re being so highly recruited,” Williams said. “When I step on the field, I want to show people why. I want to prove that I’m a ballplayer, that this isn’t all hype.”
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