SI99 No. 1 Safety Recruit James Williams Dominant in Shutout Win
John Garcia, Jr.
CLEARWATER. Fla. -- Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage is a perennial top program in the Sunshine State and the 2020 group on defense may be the best in the state.
The Patriots have yet to give up a touchdown through two games, including Friday night in a shutout win over Clearwater (Fla.) High, 24-0.
There's little doubt SI99 member and No. 1 safety James Williams is the leader of the group as a senior.
"They can't score they can't win," he told SI All-American. "We can't be worried about what offense has got going on, we can't worry about that side of the ball but if we take care of ours -- we win.
"I'm making plays but you see my teammates around me making plays. I know teams like to go away from me but I've got playmakers on my side of the ball, so they're gonna make plays. I've got my young boys, a couple of seniors, but mostly my young boys making plays."
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound standout, committed to the local Miami Hurricanes, imposed his will as an enforcer and kept everything in front of him while in coverage on this night while relaying communication with the young Heritage secondary in the process.
"I've been a leader for four years, it's really nothing new to me," Williams said. "It's something I've been doing my whole life. It's kind of like easy to me, way better for senior year.
"It feels great, I get to play football, be me. Just play football."
Of course Williams also has an eye on his future football team, with the Hurricanes red hot out of the gates in 2020 and off to a 3-0 start and a top 10 ranking.
Working with programs like Alabama, Georgia and Clemson as finalists before picking Miami in July, he says he is planning on signing with Manny Diaz when the time comes despite communication with others.
"Everything is good, I'm locked in, I'll be signing (with Miami)," he said. "I knew all this was gonna happen, it's nothing new to me so I'm not surprised. It may be surprising to other people but I knew it was gonna happen. I've seen it in their eyes.
"I'm locked in, I ain't going nowhere. They're trying...I text them every now and then since we're cool and they're still recruiting me. It ain't no hard feelings, it's just that I'm going with my heart. (Miami) It's where I want to be -- a dream come true. Can't run away from a dream."
The next dream for one of the nation's top football recruits is pushing through the 2020 season much like the Patriots have started it.
"Winning states, I've got to win states before I leave," he said.
SI All-American isolated cameras on Williams throughout his Friday night effort (video above).
Coming into his senior season we wanted to continue to see Williams utilized like the hybrid defender he will project into the college game as and Friday was a great sample of it. He lined up as a deep safety, rolled up, in the box, on the edge and even pressed up on an inside receiver with various responsibilities he executed well. Williams flashed physicality in playing the alley and coming down hill, in coverage with his elite range and instincts as well as playing inside out in run support.
As an edge defender on occasion, he was dominant at the point of contact and played leverage well against bigger blockers with big-time finishing power thereafter. The biggest flash may have come while shedding two blockers and forcing an incompletion with immediate pressure on the passer. Continued work in his stance/start phase while in coverage, including lowering his plane in his back pedal, will prove critical if he is to play as a single high player at the next level but Williams has held the physical tools to be an instant impact prospect for some time.
More SI All-American Coverage