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Commit! Justin Williams Brings Next Level Potential To Athens

Syndication: Online Athens Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Georgia Bulldogs picked up a big commitment tonight. I’m talking big even for a staff that signs elite football prospects with the regularity others reserve for swinging through the Chick-Fil-A drive thru.

This one was a true red letter pick up.

Because this evening Kirby and Company snagged the pledge of Conroe, Texas linebacker Justin Williams. Williams is the nation’s #1 linebacker prospect and the #11 player in the 247Sports Composite. The 6’2, 210 pounder chose the Red and Black over fellow finalist Oregon. But as befits his lofty ranking he had offers from every college football program in America that truly matters.

He’s a big time recruit. To put things in perspective, he’s the highest graded linebacker to commit to the Bulldogs in the modern era. Think about that for a moment. Higher than Nolan Smith. Higher than Nakobe Dean. Higher than Quay Walker or Azeez Ojulari, or Jermaine Johnson. Players who all turned into high round NFL draft picks.

Williams is a pure off-the-ball linebacker with phenomenal instincts. He’s got speed, sure. The first play of these highlights should confirm that (it was the whole point of putting that play up front). But Williams also does an impressive job of playing with his eyes, deducing the flow of the play, getting to the ball fast and arriving in a bad mood. It’s Linebacking 101.

Williams has sideline to sideline speed and flashes a burst on some of these plays reminiscent of a young Nakobe Dean. The best linebackers seem to teleport to the play. You cannot run the ball away from them. Dean had that, and Williams does as well.

But the thing that most impressed me in these highlights may be the plays on which Williams is playing between the tackles. He’s not a huge guy, and he’s playing big boy Texas high school football. But he’s an incredibly productive tackler, using his hands to deliver blows and earn space to make plays, and does a great job stoning lead blockers. In this era of spread football it’s getting harder and harder to find guys willing and able to do that,

The thing that’s perhaps most exciting is that, as I said a moment ago, Williams isn’t a hulking player. If anything his frame is a little lanky. There’s no reason to believe that he won’t wind up in the 230 pound range. If he can reach that size, maintain his speed, and improve the finer points of his game (plays a little high at times, is just a beat slow to sniff out plays here and there) Williams could be a special one.

As you’d expect Williams’ pledge puts the Dawgs even further out in front of the national recruiting rankings. Not only do the two-time defending champions have the highest rated class for 2024, they also have the highest average player rating (93.62) by a solid margin over runner up Ohio State. In short, this class is stacking up to be the best in the country in both quantity and quality.

Go ‘Dawgs!!!