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Getting to know Tennessee's class of 2007: No. 18, DE Rufus Williams

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The Dating Game

Okay, I thought long and hard about this, and I had reservations about yucking it up about a brand new member of the family, but this thing took on a life of its own. And Rufus Williams, if you’re reading this, we kid. Anyway, the salient facts:

Tennessee and Ole Miss both began recruiting Williams in the spring of 2005. In June, he gave Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron a verbal commitment, apparently without even being asked. "[H]e just said that they really liked my game and that I could fit in really well there. But he never asked me to commit or anything." At least that's what he thought he said. You can never really tell with The Orgeron.

Anyway, Williams fell head over heels for Tennessee in September, when he took an unofficial visit to Rocky Top for the Florida game. "I loved everything about it," Williams said. "The coaches, the atmosphere, the football game, the fans; it was all great. I can't say enough about it. It was a great trip." He then surprised coach Fulmer in October by committing to Tennessee, when Fulmer was simply trying to confirm the date of Williams’ official visit, . . . and was later lured back into the lair of The Orgeron, tempting fate by agreeing to an official visit in November.

Ultimately, Williams’ verbal to Fulmer held. Wow. How? Well, apparently, Coach O is no match for Tennessee’s own Matt Luke:

Coach Luke sent me handwritten letters every day, I mean every day. . . . Every time we talk, he makes me laugh.

I don’t know why I found that so amusing, but I sat there thinking about it and before I knew it, well, this happened (more fun with the audio on):

But seriously . . .

So, uh, anyway . . .

Presenting No. 18 in Tennessee’s class of 2007, defensive end and Resistor of The Orgeron, Rufus Williams. Not the former sports agent (and current President of the Chicago Board of Education) for Gary Sheffield that an unsavory character once tried to extort $20k from in return for the destruction of a certain video tape of Sheffield’s wife apparently mistaking singer R. Kelly for her husband. Hey, it was dark. Presumably. But anyway, not him.

No, this Rufus Williams:

In all fairness, Williams’ commitment to Tennessee was about more than just Matt Luke’s manly magnetism. He liked us, too (or at least he did until today):

The people there are great. They have a great love for the game. Their fan support is unbelievable. I just loved the atmosphere. Fans were yelling at me and telling me how they wanted me at Tennessee. It was pretty cool.

Williams’ ability to resist Ed Orgeron was impressive, but it should be noted that he turned down several other decent offers as well, including enticements from Alabama, Auburn, West Virginia, Colorado, and North Carolina State. The article that reported that Florida had offered Williams a scholarship was apparently incorrect.

Numbers, Honors, and Ratings, oh yeah

As a junior, Rufus Williams tallied 87 total tackles (a school record 35 of them for a loss), 15 sacks, and two fumble recoveries. Piecing together his senior statistics, it appears that he recorded 110 tackles (25 for a loss), 14 sacks (for at least negative 115 yards), two fumble recoveries (one of which was returned 58 yards for a touchdown), and at least 28 quarterback hurries. One game featured a four-sack, seven-tackle-for-loss, and 17-total-tackle performance.

Williams garnered several honors at Astronaut High School.  He was a four-year letterman and a three-year starter. He made All-County three times, All-Region twice, and All-State once, following his senior season. Williams’ team won the 2006 district championship, and Williams had six tackles, two sacks, and two tackles-for-loss in the Brevard County North-South All-Star Game. He was also a three-year letterman in track and a regional champion in the shot put in 2006.

So the recruiting services are fairly high on Williams. Rivals awards him three stars and says he is the 21st best weak side defensive end in the country and the 41st best player overall in the state of Florida. Scout also gives Williams three stars, but says he is merely the 44th best DE prospect in the nation. ESPN has him as the 57th best defensive end in the county. Someone closer to home (the Orlando Sentinel) rates Williams the 15th best player in Florida.

Williams is one of those motor guys. He’s versatile, very quick, and he knows how to use his hands. He could play outside linebacker, but will likely end up a pass-rush specialist, as that is currently his best strength.

Rocky Top Talk Mnemonic

QB sack master
Shunned The Orgeron for Luke
Who just made him laugh

Rufus Williams, welcome to Tennessee!

Kisses, everybody!


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