As one of the most highly ranked prospects in a recruiting class with loads of talent, Clemson commit Garrett Williams isn’t flying under the radar. With dozens of offers, the 2015 tight end isn’t a guy who had limited options. Williams’ father, Dayne, played at Florida State and was a part of one of the most famous plays in Seminoles history, so Williams certainly isn’t someone who’s unfamiliar with big-time football.
But Williams also isn’t complacent.
The Orlando, Florida, native committed to the Tigers in May, which for some brought back memories of the Noles’ “puntrooskie” play in a road matchup at Clemson in 1988, where the elder Williams handed the ball off to LeRoy Butler on a fake punt that set up Florida State’s game-winning field goal. Since becoming a Tiger pledge, Williams has been looking to become more explosive.
“In high school, a lot of guys are smaller than myself, so you kind of get away sometimes with not necessarily hitting the point of impact as hard as you should be,” the 6-4, 220-pound tight end told ACCSports.com. “But in college, blocking 245-pound linebackers who are really good players…you’re going to have to be really explosive at the point of impact to be able to kind of knock them back.”
As he continues to improve on the field, Williams has become more familiar with his future school off of it. He made the trip to Death Valley for the team’s Oct. 11 game against Louisville, and during his visit he got to know J.C. Chalk, a Clemson tight end commitment from the 2016 class.
“I got to hang out with him a lot because we were up there together,” Williams said of Chalk. “I think he’s a really cool kid, and I think we’re really similar in a lot of ways. I know he’s a year behind me, but I think he’s a guy who I can get close to in college when we’re up there together.”
While the standout from The First Academy enjoys being around other Tiger pledges, he also can relate to the coaching staff, which he says is the biggest reason he picked Clemson. Just a month before Williams committed, head coach Dabo Swinney had been the target of criticism from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes the separation of church and state. Williams, however, claims that Swinney’s principles made him more comfortable with his college decision.
“I think with Coach Swinney being a devout Christian man that it allows me a mentor to look up to, and it also shows me that he’s going to do things right with this program,” Williams stated. “He’s not going to take shortcuts. He’s not going to cheat or anything like that. He’s going to do everything right, and when they win, they win the right way.”
The next visit for the high school senior will likely be on Nov. 29, when the Tigers host rival South Carolina. Despite growing up in Florida, Williams is familiar with the rivalry.
“There’s a few really hardcore Clemson families around here, so just from them I know about the rivalry. I grew up a Florida State fan because my dad played there and my whole family lived there, so I would say that it’s probably similar to the Florida-Florida State rivalry.”
Williams’ girlfriend also plays volleyball for the Gamecocks, which adds some more fun to it all. But on a scale of 1 to 10, how much does he dislike South Carolina?
“I think it would definitely grow more once I get up there and I really kind of experience it firsthand, but I would probably say a seven right now because I definitely dislike them just because they’re rivals with Clemson,” the 2015 prospect said.
Williams has signed a financial aid agreement with the Tigers, and with only a couple months left in the fall semester, he said he’s on track to fulfill all the requirements necessary to enroll at Clemson in January if needed. Whether or not he takes that route is still up in the air, but regardless of when he arrives, he’ll be looking to make history in Death Valley just like his father, only this time for the home team.