“Obviously the 6’5”, 225 pounds, god-given athleticism, but I think what separates him from other players is his football IQ. The child is extremely intelligent. He dissects the pieces before they happen and this allows him to make as many pieces. He studies the game, he knows what’s going on before it actually comes and that’s what separates great players from good players.
Surtain and the rest of the staff are confident that they are giving Williams the instruction he needs in the movie theater to be successful and he expects this to help Williams to the next level.
“I try to give him little tips on training and what to look for but, to be honest, it comes naturally to him. He’s a natural football junkie. He knows things through his film and his study habits. Also, how we prepare it without a defensive coordinator and our defensive coaches throughout the week. He always has a feel for what’s going on and that’s going to propel him to the next level because we are running multiple defenses at Heritage and they are going to do the same on the next level. He will be well prepared.
One of the comparisons people make to James Williams is to former Hurricanes safety star Sean Taylor, largely because of the similar build they have, and Surtain doesn’t think that’s a offline assessment.
“James is number one security in the country. Obviously the rankings don’t tell the whole story, but at this particular age and level in high school, I think you can compare them. Sean Taylor is who he is and one of the best out there but this kid has a chance, if he goes to UM keep his head down and work on his craft I think he will definitely play on Sunday and has a chance to make a very good living.
One of the biggest discussions surrounding James Williams is where he will play at the college level. Surtain thinks Williams can play wherever Miami puts him and that’s why he’s so special.
“I really think he can play it safe. At the start of his career maybe not, but after the last two years of watching him and seeing how he’s transformed his body, especially the workouts we’ve done, I see a different person. He’s getting thinner and his lateral quickness and speed have actually increased. He could play the safe position. He could play the forward position that Gilbert Frierson played. This is what makes it so unique. He’s so versatile and he could do so many things to affect the game. I know UM coaches are going to find a way for him to move him because he can do so much. He can blitz on the edge, he can cover tight ends, he can cover the deep middle. That’s what makes it so special, its versatility.
It was no secret that Georgia was considered the overwhelming favorite to land Williams since he pulled out of Miami. Surtain gave us a glimpse of what took Williams away from the Bulldogs and made him want to stay with the home side instead.
“He was really high on Georgia at the start, but as you know things change and situations change. The situation we find ourselves in right now, no one would have ever imagined that would happen with COVID and everything. Things change, situations change, kids change their minds, they get really thoughtful and have a better understanding of the recruiting game, and then there are some things that you just can’t pass up. I think he’s home, with his family, a promise he made to some people, he knows his “why” and his “why” is at UM. From a football perspective, the kid was going to be awesome no matter where he went. Miami was just a special place for him and he will be able to live out his lifelong dream in front of his family and friends.
While the field coaches and recruiting staff have done a great job and deserve a ton of credit, Surtain has shared that Ed Reed has made an impact in recruiting and sees him playing a role in Williams’ development. once he gets to Miami. .
“I think it really has an impact just to see Ed around the building and see his face. I don’t know what he can do on the pitch, but what made Ed special was his knowledge of the game. I think he’s going to bring that to the table with the guys. He’s a great athlete and one of the best, if not the best, at security. He will bring this personality and this commercial approach back to the “U” that they lacked. He’ll have these boys ready to go. I know it will be in their ears. He’s going to play a big role in the program, so that definitely had an impact on his decision.
Miami has been on a tear on the recruiting trail recently, and Surtain believes Williams’ engagement will only add to the momentum and help Miami with other important pieces.
“The child has so much charisma and he is a natural leader. He affects the locker room and people gravitate towards him because he has such a magnetic personality. I just think UM is loading. To add a guy like James to the guys they already have, they go back to what we expect from the University of Miami. He will definitely bring people with them. This is one of the coins they’ve been waiting to drop for other guys to jump on board. He’s committed, he’s happy, I’m happy for him, and the sky is the limit for him now.
American Heritage doesn’t allow players to graduate early, so Williams will have to wait until May to register. For now, he will focus on helping American Heritage secure another state championship.