Vols Make Big Impression on Elite Defender

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    Tennessee had many visitors on campus over a four-day stretch last week and weekend, and one of those visitors was one of the top outside linebackers in the country. His visit to Knoxville made a big impression on him.

    Kourt Williams is a four-star outside linebacker who plays for St. John Bosco in Bellflower, California. He flew out for an official visit to Tennessee this past weekend, and the Vols are now definitely major players for Williams’ services.

    In an interview with Greg Biggins of 247Sports, Williams talked about his visit to Knoxville. Williams said he got to meet with head coach Jeremy Pruitt and defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley. Both talked with him about playing the “Star” position in UT’s defense, a hybrid safety/linebacker position used in Pruitt’s 3-4 defensive scheme. According to Williams, that fits his play style very well.

    “They like me for the star position, which is basically a hybrid safety/linebacker position,” Williams told Biggins. “I would play safety on early downs and then move down in to the box on third down. I like it, it’s similar to how I’m used here at Bosco so it would be a smooth adjustment.”

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound linebacker is the No. 170 overall prospect, No. 12 outside linebacker, and No. 15 player in the state of California. The Vols offered him back on January 31st of this year, and this weekend was his first time making a trip over to UT’s campus.

    That trip did enough in his mind to give Tennessee plenty of consideration as he thinks about his decision.

    “Oh yeah, they’re definitely on my list. I’m going to give them a hard look moving forward,” Williams said of the Vols. “There are a lot of plusses there for me. I plan to major in Sports Broadcasting or Business and they have a strong program so the academic fit is good.

    “I really like the campus feel and how close everything is. It’s a small campus so it’s easy to get from practice to your classes, and the city is cool too. Everyone is very passionate about UT football, you can feel it there. I went in to the stadium and watched some videos, and I have a great vibe there. It’s SEC football, that’s big time and I know I would fit in really well.”

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    Williams had already taken official visits to Texas A&M (April 26th), Oklahoma (May 3rd), and Penn State (June 7th) before traveling to Tennessee. He has one last official visit remaining, and that’s this upcoming weekend to Ohio State. After that, Williams will be participating in Nike’s The Opening Finals.

    After all that is over, Williams may be ready to announce his commitment.

    “I want to see more of Columbus and just see how well I would fit in as a regular student,” Williams told Biggins. “This will be my last visit and then I’ll take some time off and clear my head a little. I have The Opening the week after this visit but when I get back from that, I’ll sit down with my family and evaluate everyone. I’m going to take it slow but I will make a decision before the summer. I don’t have a specific timeframe, just when it feels right and when I feel good, I’ll go ahead and do it.”

    At the regional camp for The Opening back in February, Williams ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and ran the shuttle drill in 4.09 seconds. He also had a 39-inch vertical leap.

    Williams is a disruptor on defense, and he has very strong instincts. Williams possesses great reaction time and plays very naturally. There’s not a lot of hesitation in his game. He has great burst and makes sure the ball carrier isn’t going to escape his grasp. He’s tenacious and explosive and doesn’t let himself get taken out of plays often. He can run sideline-to-sideline and has some pretty good coverage skills as well.

    In 14 games as a junior for St. John Bosco, Williams totaled 74 tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, and two passes defended according to MaxPreps.

    Our Take:

    Williams’ official visit to Knoxville did everything the Vols hoped it could short of having Williams commit while there. But will it be enough after he visits Ohio State and has more time to think about his decision?

    Williams only has one other SEC school in consideration, and that’s Texas A&M. Distance doesn’t really seem to be a big factor because the Aggies and Oklahoma are the closest teams, and they aren’t exactly a quick stroll from California. Plus, Penn State and Ohio State are just as far, if not further, from home than Tennessee.

    The Vols have done a lot to position themselves well here, but it feels like UT might be on the outside looking in right now. That can certainly change, but Texas A&M and Ohio State seem like the biggest competition for him. Don’t count out Penn State, either.