College Football Recruiting: Weighing Kasen Williams' Top Five Choices
Wide receiver Kasen Williams, one of the most coveted prospects in the country, recently narrowed his list of finalists down from 10 teams to five and while there's no set date for his decision, it should be coming sooner rather than later.
First, the bad news for some. Kansas State, Alabama, Georgia Tech, and Arkansas did not make the cut.
Now, the good for others. Notre Dame, Washington, Florida, Cal, and LSU are still in the mix for one of the 2011 recruiting scene's biggest sweepstakes.
Williams now will chose his destination over four key factors he's identified throughout his process.
“Now it is more about what I want to major in—business—and what their business schools are like. Getting along with the players, if I can get a feel for that, what type of offense they run, what are their schemes, and who are the quarterbacks and receivers in front of me," Williams said.
So as usual, we'll break down the situation and see where these schools stack up against each other, and predict Williams' eventual decision.
What Williams Brings to the Table
Williams is ranked as the top receiver in the nation by Scout. He's a big, strong receiver who runs very good routes and creates great separation down-field by overpowering and out-maneuvering defenders.
He's also so strong at the line of scrimmage that it's nearly impossible to jam him; when it's attempted he usually makes the defender pay big-time.
Because of his size and strength he is one of the hardest players to take down, and when he gets loose in open space he's a threat to take it to the house every time.
Add in his pass-catching ability and you're looking at a polished elite prospect.
The Education Factor: Undergraduate Business School Rankings
Williams, like many other recruits, isn't just in this for football, he's looking to get a good education and you can never overstate how important this aspect is for some of these kids.
Williams is intelligent and as stated previously plans to major in business. If you're a Notre Dame fan, this aspect of the decision must come as very pleasant news to you, but the Irish aren't the only one of Williams' suitors who bring the academics to the table.
Let's take a look at how Williams finalists stack up against each other.
2010 Undergraduate Business School Rankings:
- Notre Dame: 1st (2009 Ranking: 2nd)
- Cal: 6th (2009 Ranking: 6th)
- Washington: 33rd (2009 Ranking: 25th)
- Florida: 55th (2009 Ranking: 53rd)
- LSU: 104th (2009 Ranking: 88th)
The Offensive System: Which Fit Seems Right?
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Obviously the offensive system is an important factor for any player, but it's especially key for those at skill positions like quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. A bad fit can mean a frustrating and unfulfilled career, so it's crucial to pick a location that meshes well with a prospect's skill set.
Williams comes from a pro-style offense in high school, and of his top five choices three of them run a similar system to that which he's used to and appears most comfortable.
LSU, Washington, and Cal all run the pro-style offense and that will definitely serve to their benefit when it comes to decision time, but of the three the Tigers are the program that seems to know how to best feature a No. 1 receiver; Brandon LaFell is a prime example.
At Notre Dame and Florida, the spread offense is featured and as the name would suggest, the ball gets spread around a lot. There are more throws, but more heads to compete for them as well.
The spread would require a greater learning curve for Williams as opposed to the systems at LSU, Cal, and Washington he'd pick up very quickly.
Playing Catch: Who Will Be Throwing Williams the Ball?
Of all of his finalists you actually have to look past their current starters at quarterback because they aren't the ones who'll be throwing Williams the ball for the majority of his career.
Washington's Jake Locker is a future first round pick in the 2011 NFL draft and Cal's Kevin Riley will also be out the door in 2011. At Notre Dame, Dayne Crist will be a senior Williams' freshman year, as will LSU's Jordon Jefferson and Florida's John Brantley.
So it's really about the depth at quarterback that matters in this equation rather than the names everyone's familiar with.
LSU's future situation looks troubling unless Russell Shepard switches back to quarterback from receiver, and at Notre Dame there's only question marks beyond Crist.
Cal's outlook is a little brighter with Beau Sweeney entering his junior year and Allan Bridford entering his sophomore year, but that still isn't the best situation either.
But Florida will have Jeff Driskel, one of the top quarterbacks from the 2011 class, entering with Williams, and Washington has Nick Montana, son of the legendary Joe Montana. Those two are definitely the best of the bunch and the ones Williams should want on the other end of his catches.
Potential Playing Time: Who's Going to Get Him On the Field?
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When it comes to playing time there are immediate concerns with Florida and LSU right off the bat. These teams have a ton of talent at the position and lot of underclassman already competing for minutes.
The Gators have been recruiting a lot of highly-rated talent at the wide receiver position over the last few years and the Tigers aren't far behind them.
Notre Dame isn't quite at that level, but it too is crowded. With Theo Riddick (sophomore) and Tai-ler Jones (freshman) it looks like it would be a couple years, minimum, before Williams would be the No. 1 receiver.
But unlike the situation at Florida and LSU, there is the potential for Williams to immediately play alongside these two and play relatively undefended a good portion of the time.
If Williams wants to be the man and get the lion's share of receptions his best bets are Washington and Cal though. Both of these schools are in need of talent at the position with many of their top targets on their way out in 2010 and 2011 and not much support behind them.
Predicting Williams' Decision
There are a number of reasons why it seems like Washington will win over its home-state star at the end of the day. It's not just that Williams is from Washington and is a Huskies legacy; both of his parents attended the university.
Yes, that definitely has weight in his decision, but it has to be about more than staying close to his family and following in his father's footsteps on the football field.
There's a noticeable change in the air under head coach Steve Sarkisian. The Huskies are a team on the rise and won't be sitting at the bottom of the Pac-10's standings for long. They're recruiting well, they're motivated, and the offense should be rolling on all cylinders in 2010.
Expect that to carry over into future seasons as well as their continued success recruiting.
Williams is a great fit for their system and he'll get plenty of playing time right from the get-go with a young and promising quarterback throwing him the ball.
As for his business degree, Washington might not be Notre Dame, but it's still a quality school that will give him a first class education.