Clemson currently has 12 commitments in its 2021 recruiting class, which ranks No. 3 nationally right now, and plans to sign around 18 prospects in this cycle according to Dabo Swinney.
In our Breaking Down Clemson’s Top Targets series, The Clemson Insider takes an in-depth look at some of the top names on the Tigers’ board, where they stand with them and more. In this article, we focus on James Williams:
Hometown (High School): Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (American Heritage)
Height, Weight: 6-5, 220
Power Five Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, West Virginia
Ratings/Rankings: 5-star, No. 1 ATH, No. 3 state, No. 9 national (247Sports); 4-star, No. 2 S, No. 6 state, No. 20 national (Rivals); 4-star, No. 3 OLB, No. 8 state, No. 33 national (ESPN)
Clemson extended an offer to Williams last May, when he was most recently on campus.
Williams originally committed to Mark Richt and Miami in March 2018 before decommitting from the Hurricanes in May 2019.
After releasing a top five of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia and Miami last September, Williams revealed his three finalists in February: Alabama, Clemson and Georgia.
Where Clemson stands:
Georgia has long been considered the clear frontrunner to land Williams, and nothing has changed. But his recruitment is not over yet, and the longer it extends, the better for Clemson and Alabama.
While Williams hasn’t visited Clemson in 12 months, he took to Twitter late last month expressing his intent to return to Clemson when the NCAA dead period is over. If the Tigers can get him back on campus, then they will have a chance to make a move with him.
The Tigers are pitching to Williams the chance to be the next Isaiah Simmons, and the opportunity to be used in an all-around role like Simmons really appeals to him when he thinks about Clemson.
What Clemson would get:
Long and athletic with a lean but strong frame, Williams moves extremely well at his size and is a smooth, fluid runner. As a safety, he is good at tracking the ball, has plus ball skills and is able to snatch balls out of the air over other players thanks to his size and reach. He has shown his skills as a playmaking wide receiver for his high school team and is a threat with the ball in his hands, whether it’s picking up yards after the catch on offense or returning an interception defensively. In run support, Williams is more than willing to stick his nose in there and lay a lick on the ballcarrier, and he is effective when blitzing as well.
Williams has drawn comparisons to Simmons because of their similar size, athleticism and versatility. Williams could play safety or outside linebacker at the next level and be used as a pass rusher off the edge in certain situations. While Williams may fit best at safety or nickel, the Tigers, if they got him, would figure to try and take advantage of his ability to play all over the field like they did with Simmons. Regardless of where he lines up, Williams has the talent and potential to be an impact player and a difference-maker for the college defense he decides to play for. There is a high ceiling here.
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