Mykel Williams: Nation’s No. 5 junior DT shares how UGA got his full attention
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry offers up the first DawgNation deep read on elite junior DT Mykel Williams of Hardaway High School in Columbus.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — It is never too early to start thinking about the next recruiting cycle. Especially when it comes to an elite defensive lineman. That feeling intensifies when it comes to elite in-state defensive line prospects like Hardaway’s Mykel Williams.
The 6-foot-5, 259-pound junior had a season where his production soared over his rankings as the nation’s No. 5 DT and No. 51 overall recruit (247Sports Composite) for 2022. Those are strong rankings.
Williams backed those up and then some with his 2020 junior stat line: 69 tackles, 19 tackles for losses, 17 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
With the commitment of Tift County stalwart Tyre West already in hand for this class, the focus understandably shifts now to both North Carolina 5-star DT Travis Shaw and Williams for the next big pieces of Travion Scott’s room for 2022.
There will be a vast degree of recruiting difficulty here. There’s a member of his immediate family who clearly loves Alabama.
Williams also grew up a fan of Clemson. That was his childhood dream school.
But the Bulldogs are squarely in this thing. The in-state school was able to seize his full attention with something known as a college gameday visit.
That’s when a prospect was able to travel to the school’s campus and meet face-to-face with the coaching staff and interact with other recruits and players while watching the current team perform inside a packed stadium.
Quite the throwback to simpler terms.
What’s the biggest thing he likes about the Bulldogs right now? That’s Sanford Stadium.
“The fans,” he said. “The atmosphere.”
He was at the Murray State and Texas A&M games in 2019.
“The atmosphere when you are there’s crazy,” he said. “That’s what drives me to it.”
It really got Georgia into the game as far as his recruiting process.
“I really didn’t like Georgia at all until I went to my first game,” Williams said. “It was like Murray State and that atmosphere was electric.”
Mykel Williams: A few important things about his recruiting
UGA is actually recruiting him to play the “5” technique. They feel he is best suited to play outside at the DE position. He was even offered as a DE.
Williams has a keen sense of his recruiting. He knows if visits had been lifted this fall, he would have been at the Alabama-Georgia game in Tuscaloosa. That was a game he would have been at. If he had the chance to visit schools again, he feels the schools he would visit first are Alabama and Georgia.
Here are a few other intriguing parts of his story:
- Georgia ace recruiter Dell McGee has deep ties in the Columbus area based on his high school coaching background as the one-time head coach at Carver-Columbus. He has a group chat going with Williams and his family. “He says I’m a big priority for them in 2022,” Williams said. “He says he can’t let me leave the state.”
- The name of that group text thread, which does include other Georgia coaches, is interesting here. “It says from Columbus GA to Athens GA,” Williams said.
- Williams plans to name his top 10 on Jan. 1. Why? It will be a new year and a new fresh start with all things. He wants to establish his top 10 schools on that day. He said to already expect schools like Alabama, Clemson and Georgia to be in that top 10.
- Clemson, LSU, Georgia and a few other schools have really been hitting him up hard.
- He also knows when he will take that top 10 down to a top 2 or a top 3 on June 29. That’s his birthday.
- Tyre West, as mentioned above, has already started to work on him about becoming a ‘Dawg, too. Those two, along with Cedar Grove junior DT Christen Miller, have long talked about playing with one another in college.
- What is he looking for in a school? “Success,” he said. “I want to be able to go in there and play early. Not necessarily play all the time early but get on the field. Do you know what I mean? Be successful. I’m actually looking for a coach that is going to develop me and actually prepare me for the next level which is the NFL.”
- He is thinking long about it already, but he knows his current timelines may change. He wants to make his college commitment on August 23, 2021. “That is my baby sister’s birthday,” he said. “She is going to be two.”
Mykell Williams: The young man behind the 17 sacks in 2020
Williams is one of those players who can’t hide on a field. When DawgNation visited him for a game earlier this season, it just took a quick scan to know that he wasn’t finished taping in the locker room yet.
With a body like his, he will just stand out. There’s no need to even scan for his No. 24 jersey. He’s such a good football player on both sides of the ball that some schools recruiting him even feel that he would be just as promising of a prospect, if not even better, as an offensive tackle.
He will play there regularly for Hardaway and pile up the pancakes as an offensive lineman or at tight end, too. South Carolina actually rated him higher on their boards as an offensive tackle.
Williams is fluid in his hips on tape. He uses his hands well. That is all there. Especially at that size. He’s easily going to be 6 feet, 6 inches tall and about 265-275 pounds when he goes to college.
But that comment he made about his baby sister is a tell. He burns to be able to use the game of football to provide for her and the rest of his family.
“I’m going to do a lot of the stuff I do and it is because of her and my momma and my older sisters,” he said.
He was in a tough car accident back when he was in middle school.
“It made me realize how important every day was and to be grateful for it,” he said.
When you see that season highlight reel below, he wants you to not forget one big thing here.
“I’m a family guy and I am a very respectful young man,” he said of how he was raised. “I have good character.”
His head coach, Michael Woolridge, will echo that sentiment.
“This kid is a 3.3 student with a 3.3 grade-point average and not only that he’s always calling us on the weekends,” Woolridge said. “When we have a day off, he’s trying to do a pass rush drill or go to Atlanta to work with a pass-rushing specialist who played in the NFL to try and get better. Normally, that doesn’t go hand-in-hand. Your best player is normally not your hardest worker because they can get by off their athletic ability.”
“But he wants to be great. He wants to be the best. That’s what I love the most about ‘Kell is he is always looking for a way to get better.”
What drives that? Maybe a sense of accountability for his family. Mix in perhaps a lot of personal pride, too.
“I think what drives him every day is he has a lot of hype around him with all of those rakings and those big offers,” Woolridge said. “But he wants to live up to those Power 5 offers. That’s what I see out of him every day. He is always about improving… Most kids settle once they get all those big Power 5 offers. They are like ‘Ok, I’ve got my offers’ but not Mykel. He keeps working. He’s got all these schools wanting him. He’s got LSU, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Clemson. This guy just wants to keep working to get better to prove he’s worthy of all of this attention he gets. That’s the most amazing part about him.”
Williams has gone one-on-one with a defensive back at practice working at tight end and make a one-handed catch on a vertical route in drills.
“He was maybe 40 inches off the ground,” Woolridge said. “I’ve seen him beat several blocks and then cause a strip fumble on the quarterback and then recover the fumble and run with it. I’ve seen the same kid do both of those things before. With him on defense there, you are talking about three major impressive things and he did them all together back-to-back-to-back on one play to make an even bigger play. Beat a double team, cause a fumble, then pick it up and run with it for a score in a game last year.”
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