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Davion Williams jolted awake at 6 a.m. ET on Thursday to the sound of his phone.
It was Belleville (Mich.) football coach Jermain Crowell calling him to say Michigan State had offered. Williams had to pinch himself for a second to make sure he wasn’t still fast asleep.
“I thought I was dreaming,” the Belleville junior cornerback said. “It was just amazing. It was a nice way to wake up this morning.”
— Davion (@on_the_com_up_) May 11, 2017
Just to make sure, Williams spoke with Michigan State wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel. Sure enough, the Spartans had offered. The 2018 3-star prospect in the 247Sports composite added them to a list already including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State and Purdue, among others.
The 6-foot-2 Williams — “6-1 without the hair,” he quipped — now finds himself in a position similar to his 2019 teammate Julian Barnett, who also holds an offer. Should they end up at Michigan State, position coaches will fight over both of them.
“Coach Samuel said that he wants me at wide receiver,” Williams said, “and [defensive backs coach Harlon] Barnett wants me at DB. [Samuel] said it’s all going to work itself if I get up there.”
The rise has been particularly rapid for Williams, who starred on the basketball court before deciding to play high school football for the first time as a junior. Now fully committed to playing college football, he doesn’t anticipate a two-sport college career.
Michigan State looks like the favorite to land him. As a child, Williams preferred Michigan. But as a fan of the underdog, he has rooted for Michigan State from age 10 onward. It made the offer particularly special.
“As a kid, I always dreamed about getting an offer from Michigan State and staying humble about it and getting better,” Williams said. “It felt great. It made me more motivated. It made me want to work harder. If I do get to that level, I want to be ready and prepared, and I want to have a chance to go to the next level after that.”
If his improvement since the start of the season serves as any indication, he has the potential. Williams remembers the frustration from his early practices at cornerback and the hope that he could get moved to wide receiver.
Crowell’s persistence paid off. He set Williams up with Delano Hill, Lavert Hill and Jourdan Lewis, three defensive backs who flourished under Crowell at Detroit Cass Tech before heading to play for Michigan. Delano Hill and Lewis were both selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Williams has worked with all three for the past two months. Lewis, especially, has taken the junior under his wing.
“Jourdan Lewis said I’m going to turn into his project,” Williams explained. “He’d like to see me succeed, so he likes to see this all happening. I’ve been spending three or four hours with him a day just doing DB work, arguing with him like, ‘I can’t do this. My mechanics ain’t right for this. You’re too fast for this.’ All that type of stuff. And we just do it. It started clicking.”
Williams’ future appears to be on defense. Apart from Samuel, all the coaches with whom he’s spoken want him in the secondary. Now he just has to start narrowing things down.
The next batch of visits should help. He said he will visit Indiana next week, Purdue the following week, Iowa and Iowa State shortly afterward, and at some point in the process, he wants to fit in a trip to Michigan State.
He’s visited East Lansing several times before, often with several teammates: Barnett, sophomore offensive tackle Devontae Dobbs and incoming Spartans walk-on Jahz Watts, the quarterback.
“We’ve been saying that would be a good pipeline from Belleville,” Williams said. “That would be nice for all of us to go there.”
Williams wants to have a decision made by August so that he can focus on his senior season and potentially enrolling early in college. But if a visit blows him away, he could announce earlier.
He wants to see a family atmosphere and a place where he can fit in. Finding a program with strong player-coach relationships that makes him feel at home will be integral. The Michigan State offer took him a step closer to locating that fit.
“This was one I’ve waited on for a long time,” he said.