Recruiting Rewind: The one and only Preston Williams

Preston Williams always attract a crowd (AJC)

Preston Williams always attract a crowd (AJC)

Preston Williams, who is rated as one of the nation’s top 10 receivers for 2015, will get a head start to his college career.

The Lovejoy High School standout told the AJC that he is leaving on Monday to enroll in classes at Tennessee for the shortened May session.

“It’s time to be there,” Williams said on Sunday night. “I’m ready to start the next chapter.”

Williams signed with Tennessee last February, and he was considered by many to be the state’s best recruit at receiver since Da’Rick Rogers (who also signed with Tennessee) was rated No. 1 overall prospect in Georgia in 2010. Williams is ranked No. 6 overall, along with the No. 7 receiver in the country.

The 6-foot-4 Williams will be missed for more than his talent and athleticism. He was also one of the most charismatic and entertaining recruits to ever come through the Atlanta area. He was truly “never a boring moment” – a sportswriter’s dream (Tennessee beat writers, get ready).

Preston reflected on his whirlwind recruiting journey with the AJC before leaving for Rocky Top:

Tennessee's Butch Jones (AP file)

Tennessee’s Butch Jones (AP file)

What’s the funniest thing any coach said to you during the recruiting process? “Coach Butch Jones told me that I was smarter than him because I scored higher on the ACT than he did. He told me that a couple of months ago. I just laughed. It was funny. I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. The other coaches told me that he was serious.”

You signed with Tennessee. Who came in second place? “It probably would’ve been Florida if Joker Phillips was still there. But my runner-up was probably UGA.” What, if anything, could UGA have done better? “They could’ve come after me earlier. They waited until my senior year. My first two offers were Alabama and Tennessee. I had those in tenth grade. Georgia didn’t really come after me until my senior year. I was already committed to Tennessee. I love Tennessee.”

What was the most creative thing a college did to get your attention? “It was when the Tennessee fans chanted my name at a basketball game. It made me feel like I had already done something there. I couldn’t believe it. After that, I knew for sure I was going to the right place.”

Which non-Tennessee coach was the nicest? “Urban Meyer. He is cool people. I like Coach Meyer. But Ohio is just not my area.” Which coach maybe wasn’t as nice? “Nick Saban. Me and him don’t relate. We don’t click. We have two different personalities, so I never saw myself playing at Alabama. I’m more of a family-type person. I’m talkative and I laugh. He’s more like sandpaper. He’s a good coach. He’s just traditional and old school. I’m more new school and stylish.”

What was the funniest thing that happened on a college visit? “Let me think (long pause).” Was it those reports about you being asked to leave your Auburn visit early for wearing Tennessee gear in order to recruit other prospects for the Volunteers, among other things? “Recruiting is always going to be recruiting. People said that I changed the game in recruiting by pulling that stunt (at Auburn). To me, it was more helping the school I was going to.”

What made you fall in love with Tennessee? “My dad went to Alabama. I didn’t know too much about Tennessee when I was little. Then I finally got a chance to visit their school. And it was everything I wanted it to be. So I’m ready to go there and work hard to get on the field.”

Georgia's No. 6 overall prospect

Georgia’s No. 6 overall prospect

What was the biggest secret you kept during the recruiting process? “People used to take when I said I was going to visit a school … that I was going to de-commit from Tennessee. I never had any thought of de-committing from Tennessee. I was 100 percent with Tennessee since I committed there. That’s why I didn’t take too many other official visits.”

Which school disappointed you the most? “LSU, because LSU didn’t offer me. No, I’m going to say USC. I was really thinking about going there. But I guess they are not too fond of taking guys from out of state.”

You stole signing day this year by wearing a leather Tennessee helmet with a white suit. “Everybody wears the regular Tennessee hats. I decided to pull out the helmet. It’s different. Nobody thought of it. You know, I do what I do. You never know what Preston Williams is going to do.”

What will Preston do at Tennessee? “I’m going to go there and work hard. I start classes this week. It’s time to be there. I graduate from high school on May 21. But I’m finished with my classes and my tests. I just have to wait on graduation.”

How are you recovering from knee surgery? Will you be able to play this season? “It’s great. I started running. I start cutting in two months. I will definitely be playing this year.”

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