The first time Todd Bates saw Clemson freshman defensive end Jordan Williams play in person, Williams was on the basketball court.
After joining Clemson’s staff as the new defensive line coach in January, Bates went out on the recruiting trail to watch Williams, who was then a Clemson commitment and standout two-sport athlete at Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach, Va.
Bates liked what he saw that night, and thinks Clemson fans will love him in the future.
“I had a chance to see him play basketball when I first got here, and he can really move, man,” Bates said at Dabo Swinney’s media golf outing last week. “To be that size, he’s very athletic.
“Kind of puts you in the mind of what Christian (Wilkins) may have looked like. I didn’t get to see Christian coming out of high school, but that’s who he puts me in the mind of, just seeing him run around. And he has a big personality as well, so I think [Clemson fans] will love him.”
Williams went on to sign with Clemson in February and is now just days away from his first fall camp, which begins for the Tigers next Thursday, Aug. 3.
According to Bates, the former four-star recruit and national top-150 prospect is physically ready for the start of his college football career.
“He’s been really putting in the work,” Bates said. “He’s had a great summer of workouts, and his body is telling the story of that. He’s about 285 pounds right now.”
Clemson’s losses of defensive ends Richard Yeargin and Lasamuel Davis have opened the door for Williams to potentially avoid a redshirt and earn early playing time this fall. Yeargin suffered a season-ending neck injury in a vehicle accident this summer, while Davis elected to transfer.
Williams figures to compete with players such as redshirt freshman Xavier Kelly and redshirt junior Chris Register for a reserve role in Clemson’s defensive end rotation this season.
Bates is taking a wait-and-see approach with Williams and looking forward to seeing what he does in fall camp.
“We’ll see,” Bates said. “Freshmen coming in, the biggest deal is the learning curve and the playbook, and he’s been picking it up.
“I’m excited about him. I’m excited to see what he’s able to do. If he’s ready to play, he’ll play.”
During his final two seasons at Cox, Williams racked up 89 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes defended, three caused fumbles and five fumble recoveries, including one that he returned for a touchdown.
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