In-state linebacker impresses at camp, picks up Clemson offer

by - Staff Writer -

Jalen Williams Jalen Williams
6-0, 215
Blythewood, SC

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made an impression on everybody during Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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’s high school football camp in June. In fact, he made such an impression on defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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that Venables asked Williams to stay for a second day.

And then a third day.

The extra work paid off for the 2014 Blythewood (SC) linebacker, who took an unofficial visit to Clemson’s campus Wednesday with his mother, two sisters and grandfather, taking home a grayshirt offer from the Clemson coaching staff. The offer was his first from a BCS school – he had been offered previously by Air Force, Appalachian State, Wofford, Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Presbyterian College, North Carolina Central, Campbell University, and Furman.

During linebacker drills at Swinney’s camp in June, Williams drew rave reviews from many onlookers and coaches, despite working in a group with more-heralded prospects. He told TigerNet Thursday morning that the camp work and visit paid off, and now he hopes he can be a part of the 2014 class.

“Coach Venables stopped by to see me earlier this year during the spring,” Williams said. “When he came by, I sat with him for a little bit and then I came to camp. I did pretty well. I think by far and away that the Clemson camp was my best. I did well in the drills. I did well in the one-on-one stuff. I impressed Coach Venables. I was only planning to stay for one day of the three day camp. After the first session of the first day, coach Venables asked me if there was any way that I could stay for a second day so he could work with me a little more and I did well the second day.

“I went for my unofficial yesterday. The offer is a grayshirt offer because they don’t have any more spots. Their class filled up early with commitments. But, there’s still a chance, that if it comes down to signing day and a spot opens up or somebody that’s committed de-commits or somebody doesn’t qualify, that I can be a part of the 2014 class.”

Williams said that he and his family were impressed with Clemson during Wednesday’s visit.

“I was real impressed. The first things we did was we met with Coach Venables and one of the student trainers,” he said. “The first place was went was Vickery Hall. We sat down with one of the student advisors and we went through what I would major in if I went there, what I would do over the summer and what hours I would take. Most players will graduate with a degree in three years from Clemson because they get the athletes ahead by taking hours over the summer. After that, we went to the indoor facility and that facility is the best one I’ve seen out of the five big camps that I went to this year.

“That was by far the best facility that I’ve seen. After that, we went back to the stadium and we ran into the players coming out of their player meetings. We saw everyone from the d-line to the kickers. I met Sammy Watkins and I talked to him. I saw the two starting linebackers and I met a lot of freshmen like Ben Boulware from T.L. Hanna. Once we got finished, I met with Coach Swinney for 30 or 45 minutes and we talked about Clemson and he explained the grayshirt deal and how that works. We went to the weight room and the locker room and saw a video on the stadium.”

Williams said the offer was proof that hard work at the camps can pay off in a big way.

“I went into camp knowing that there were going to be some of the top players in the country there with me, so I knew that I couldn’t just walk in there having just a regular day,” he said. “My mindset was that I was going to go in there with the attitude that I was going to leave with an offer. I don’t know what it was, but when we got in the facility and starting going through line drills, my body was just loose. I felt like if we ran the 40, I would run the fastest time I’ve ever run. We got into drills and I was flying through them and I wasn’t getting winded. When we got into one-on-ones and I was covering running backs that can run 4.3 and 4.4, I was sticking with them.”

Now, he has a decision to make, and he says he won’t wait too much longer.

“With recruiting, I’m not going to wait out much longer. I won’t wait until the end of the season,” Williams said. “I think by the middle of the season, I’ll have my decision. From here on out, I know that I’ll be at Clemson’s first game against Georgia and then after that I’ll be at the Florida State game. After the Florida State game, I’ll sit down with my family and have my decision.”

As a junior, Williams accounted for 102 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hurries, and three sacks.

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