Willie Williams is a sobering reminder that being one of the nation’s top football recruits is far from a guarantee of future success.
The former Miami (FL) and Louisville linebacker, once believed to be the next Ray Lewis, now sits in a prison cell at Kenton County Jail in Covington, KY, after he was found guilty of second-degree burglary and being a persistent felony offender last March. It’s believed to be his 17th arrest. While the sentencing was not reported publicly, Williams faced 10 to 20 years behind bars and the jury for the case recommended that he be locked up for 15 years.
“Persistent” is an understatement when describing Williams’ troubles with the law. He was arrested 11 times before signing with the Hurricanes in February 2004 as arguably the best high school linebacker in the country. He spent just one season at Miami (2005) before transferring to West Los Angeles College in 2006 and then Louisville in 2007.
Williams’ tenure with the Cardinals was even shorter than his time at “The U,” as he was dismissed three games in following an arrest on marijuana possession. By far his best season as a collegian came at NAIA Union (KY) College, where he registered a school-record 144 tackles during the 2008 season — after which his latest batch of legal troubles began.
It wasn’t just on a police blotter that Williams sparked off-the-field controversy. His sordidly-detailed account of how he was feted during his recruiting visits, as told to The Miami Herald before National Signing Day in 2004, led the NCAA to enact limits on what schools can provide visiting recruits.
On Wednesday’s National Signing Day, you can be sure that all big-time schools will keep their fingers crossed that, among their signees, there isn’t another Willie Williams. Willie Williams profile