COLUMBUS, Ga. – The first sample that the collective eyes of the spectators could see Mykel williams Thursday night I was on the offensive and then …
The coveted pass rusher, ranked in the top 20 overall recruits in the college football class of 2022 by SI All-American, landed two defenders on the ground in his first two plays on offense. One was a direct block, while working as a tight end, and the other was on a pull and then a kick (against another Power 5 recruit, no less) in which the short area blast created an audible gasp.
The 6’5 “, 255-pound prospect then worked on the side of the ball that we hope to see prevalent in college, as a defensive end. Working as much as a player on his feet and with his hand on the ground despite a very heavy cast. Stuck in his right hand, outside talent was on display throughout the night even as his Columbus, Georgia, Hardaway team fell to rival Carver High.
Williams initially attracted attention with her build. He’s apparently added some good weight from the off-season camping circuit, but keeping a relatively lean and lengthy build in the process. On helmet, he seems the type that can work from the outside in into any defensive scheme, fast enough to challenge blockers on the edge and enough build and power to compete against bigger blockers on the offensive inside.
As the night progressed, the play continued, but so did the engine. Often times in this business the focus is heavily dependent on flash views, ceiling, and long-term potential, but there’s still something to be said for the effort. Williams worked on both sides of the ball, battled cramps on a cool night, and continued to push, even with the scoreboard out of reach. As a blocker and defender, the future Bulldog worked through the whistle with physique and purpose, a creative characteristic of the benefit of the doubt at any level of ball.
Discipline was also shown on Thursday. He was often running away from Williams, typical of a front-line recruit over a span of several years, so his keys against the career became his sold-out path to football. Carver ran a lot of zone reading, with action out of position, forcing him to play on his back to keep the quarterback or on the runner’s cutoff line. Williams not only diagnosed well, but maintained leverage, showed patience, and attacked there afterward.
When Carver attempted the traditional dive action to or from his side, there was no hesitation and Williams constantly worked on the line to make impact plays against the ball carrier. An early stoppage came on a fourth down, creating the first of Carver’s four turnovers on the night.
Where Williams seems just as comfortable is against the pass. Not only does he shoot from football with twitch and timing, but there seems to be a diverse plan near the point of contact. By staying low, running from both sides of the formation, Williams executed a bull run, a stick and a rip and even an effective turn at times Thursday. He closes the distance between his assigned blocker without wasting movement and can mix pressure styles thereafter to block tackles.
Where there is room for improvement in the passing racing game is the complexity of the moves and layering against better blockers. Williams got a few hits off the opposing quarterback, who was extremely mobile, knocking him out of his place seemingly a dozen times. With their build and recognition ability, additional techniques like push and pull, swimming, or even an inside-out run could allow for even greater production on passing. Keeping the toolbox expanded as you add more mass will also indicate its future position.
The combination of his size, versatile strengths along with overall length and athleticism makes the projection of Williams’ position a bit moody. In the offseason, our staff leaned more toward projecting a technical 5 or traditional 3-4 defensive end, hence the “inside line” tag attached to his name rather than an “edge” tag. There is consistency against the run in both blocking taking and recognition, while there is enough running up pass to move him up and down the line.
When the final SI99 ranking goes live in January, Georgia’s commitment may move to the brink or stay in its IDL position, but there is little question as to whether or not it belongs to the best in the nation in either spot.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.