Real Recruiting Stories: LaMarcus Williams

January 3, 2012

News, Sports

I guess everyone wants to ask, “What really happened?” or “What did you like about that school?” or “What were your reasons for signing with that school?”  I decided to start a feature called Real Recruiting Stories that I hope to do from time to time.

LaMarcus Williams

LaMarcus Williams

The first player I interviewed for this feature is LaMarcus Williams. Williams was a highly touted Defensive Tackle recruit, who helped national power the Bastrop Rams win two State Championships. He accumulated 138 tackles and 22 tackles for loss the last two years of his prep career. Williams shockingly switched from Ole Miss to in-state rival Mississippi State on signing day 2007 — he also was once committed to Alabama.

Williams discussed his recruiting process, how he ended up at Mississippi State, and his injury-shortened career.

The recruiting process started early for Williams. He first started getting recruited as a sophomore, and the athletic defensive tackle got the first offers his junior year.

Williams had a terrific season that junior year, and his recruitment was picking up. Alabama was the strongest competitor for his services, and he committed to them the June before his senior season.  Williams talked about why he chose the Crimson Tide early in the process.

“I really gelled with the coaching staff. Me and the Defensive Coordinator had some good talks about some things we could get done. Met some of the defensive players; everybody was cool. Alabama speaks for itself,” said Williams.

Williams was committed to Alabama, but one school was still in hot pursuit: The Ole Miss Rebels. He had already taken a few unofficial visits to the Ole Miss campus.

“There were a couple other high school guys that were recruited as high as me. Those guys were over there playing. They had a little pull on me—I went on a couple of unofficial visits to kick it with those guys. I liked the atmosphere and everything,” said Williams.

The Rebels’ chances increased after a coaching change at Alabama. The Crimson Tide hired Nick Saban, and he changed their defensive front to the 3-4, which needs bigger nose guard types. Williams didn’t fit that description.

“Saban wanted a different style of player. I was more quick and lean. Saban wanted bigger nose tackle guys. I wasn’t really that big,” said Williams.

Alabama was now out of the mix for Williams, and Ole Miss made their move. He committed to Ole Miss on January 16th. I asked what it was about Ole Miss — and subsequently Head Coach Ed Orgeron — that made him commit to them.

“Orgeron was a real good defensive line coach. Anybody that wants to be a defensive lineman wants to be coached by somebody that has coached guys in the pros,” said Williams.

“Coach O [Orgeron] is one of the best recruiters I’ve seen. He just has an aura about himself; he just loves the game of football. He looks at recruiting like it’s a game. I remember him walking through my school. I didn’t even know he was there, and I ended up bumping into him going to the restroom. The guy did a rip move on me in the hallway. Everything is football with him,” said Williams.

“He’s real competitive; everybody wants their coach to be competitive.  Then at the same time, you want somebody who’s down to earth. His family was down to earth, and everything just gelled,” said Williams.

Williams had his mind set on being a Rebel, but Mississippi State entered the mix shortly before signing day.

“I got recruited by Mississippi State, but it wasn’t very heavy. I came to Mississippi State for a coaches clinic; I didn’t do nothing, just came down and hung out. I wasn’t even planning on visiting Mississippi State until the end. I ended up coming down and hanging out. Everything was cool, but I still had my mind set on going to Ole Miss — but on Signing Day, for some reason, I ended up signing up with Mississippi State,” said Williams.

The technically sound defensive tackle signed with Mississippi State, but spurned Ole Miss. I asked him if he was worried about the potential hard feelings.

“It’s all about bettering your future. I try to tell guys who come after me to do whatever concerned to benefit you in the end. So, it really wasn’t about hurting anybody. It was about what was going to better fit me,” said Williams.

Another part of the recruiting process I wanted to touch on was how he handled recruiting sites and the fans of schools.

“I’m from Bastrop, Louisiana—we never paid attention to any of that. We don’t get into all that around here; we just play ball,” said Williams.

“I’m a people person, so it was never a big issue with me. I talked with everybody. Everybody tries to bring their approach a little different than the last person,” said Williams.

Williams had an interesting recruiting process, but he enjoyed it all.

“I think everyone should go through it, but everyone don’t. I personally enjoyed it, because it shows you have value when it comes to sports,” said Williams.

I wanted to focus on Williams’ recruiting process, but I would be remiss not to ask about his time at Mississippi State. He was there for the highs and lows of the Sylvester Croom Era — Williams also played his last year under Dan Mullen.

Williams was able to play in 11 of 13 games during his true freshman year. The Bulldogs made it to the Liberty Bowl that year, which was Croom’s only winning season.

The Bulldogs had a good season Williams’ first year, but things were about to go downhill. There was a shooting incident that spring, which caused a terrible domino effect. I asked Williams if it was tough on the team.

“Yeah, mentally it really was, because you train, and you prepare, then something shocking happens out of nowhere — of course that’s going to change the whole outlook on your season — losing so many players with talent. You have to re-evaluate things and start from scratch. That changed a lot of things; a lot of depth on the defensive line was taken away. There were a couple of DBs [defensive backs].  Defensively, it was a whole reconstruction.

The season, as many expected, was a tough one.  Mississippi State went 4-8, and got blown out by Ole Miss 45-0. Croom resigned shortly after the game. Williams wasn’t surprised by the resignation.

“Dealing with football and the NCAA, there aren’t too many coaches that are secure. The way these people think now, it’s like, ‘What have you done for me lately?’” said Williams.

Dan Mullen was hired a few weeks after Croom’s resignation. I asked Williams about his initial impression of Mullen.

“We just knew he was a winner and won national championships — that made him really stand out.  He coached Tebow, one of the best players in the country. He definitely had a knack for winning,” said Williams.

Williams only got to play for one year under Mullen. He suffered two ruptured discs in his back in 2009. It was caused by repeated stress over the years on a misaligned spine. He didn’t realize that the injury would be career-threatening at the time.

“I never knew I wasn’t going to be able to play football anymore. I knew I was hurt, but it never crossed my mind that this would be the last year I touch a football field in a playing fashion. I kind of knew things were going downhill for my season, anyway. The shots were no longer working. So, we were just trying to figure out a way where I could be ready for the next season. The more things progressed, the worse it got. We knew something was going to have to happen surgically,” said Williams.

Williams’ playing career was over. He had to concentrate on school and graduating. The former Bulldog is still at Mississippi State, finishing up his coursework, and he plans to go to graduate school.


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