Jamyest Williams has been compared in some circles to former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. With the latter being named a finalist for the Heisman in 2011 and getting paid some major dollars by the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, the Gamecocks hope that the former can have similar impact in Columbia. But first things first: landing him.
According to the word from many recruiting experts, the battle for Williams is South Carolina’s to lose at this point. The momentum they have gained in past weeks, coupled with Will Muschamp and Travaris Robinson’s aggressive pursuit, have led to Williams trending toward choosing the Gamecocks over Georgia and Clemson. (Even SB Nation’s recruiting guru, Bud Elliott, is predicting Williams to Columbia.)
Here’s why getting a pledge from Williams would be important for the Gamecocks’ short and long-term prospects:
- He is projected to be a program-changer. I don’t think that he can be mentioned in the same breath as coveted linebacker Dylan Moses or undecided cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, but Williams would easily be the Gamecocks’ highest-rated backfield player since Stephon Gilmore in 2009. And for as much as Muschamp has been looking to improve the secondary, Williams would certainly go a long way in helping the unit take a step forward from their rankings toward the end of the Spurrier era. (Keep in mind, too, that he is also a running back in high school, racking up 23 TDs and 1300+ yards on the ground. Imagine him in the return game.)
- He could potentially be a opening day starter. A look at the depth chart shows redshirt senior Rico McWilliams and junior Chris Lammons starting, with sophomore Rashad Fenton and freshman Chris Smith as backups. There’s no reason to think that a player like Williams can make his presence known on the two-deep right away. And with him potentially enrolling in January, that will give him even more of a boost.
- Will Muschamp’s and Travaris Robinson’s track record of recruiting cornerback talent speaks for itself. Earlier I mentioned a couple of names: Vernon Hargreaves III and Teez Tabor. Hargreaves departed Florida as one of the country’s elite shutdown CBs and was drafted by the Bucs with the 11th overall pick. Tabor has turned into a terrific corner in his own right and looks to be a top five pick this spring if he continues his trajectory. Muschamp and Robinson have an eye for talent at the position, so that should be a major encouragement.
- The potential for bigger names to follow him to Columbia. Remember, M.J. Webb, OrTre Smith, Dakereon Joyner and Xavier Thomas are very much in play at this point in time. I’m not saying that all four would eventually end up in garnet and black, but potentially teaming up with Williams could be a opportunity too hard to pass up, especially if the Gamecocks show some forward progress in 2016. It’s obviously not as simple as it sounds, but it will be another tool in the Carolina arsenal.
Williams will have a lot to chew on over the next two and a half weeks as he mulls his options, but if he were to commit today, the Gamecocks look to be the team that would come out on top. We’ll see if that changes between now and August 27.