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Jeff Sentell / AJC
Williams was a need for the Class of 2017 at Georgia, but he's now committed to South Carolina

Sentell’s Intel: How South Carolina snatched a key target from UGA

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or that 5-star might be leaning and sprinkle in a dab of perspective to help folks figure out what it all means. 


Jamyest Williams grew up in Athens. Before he lined up on Saturday for a Grayson-IMG Academy clash the whole nation was watching, he chose to write the area code “706” across the tape on his wrists.

Williams is rated as the nation's No. 7 cornerback for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Williams is rated as the nation’s No. 7 cornerback for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

He had already made a big decision earlier in the day. Williams committed to South Carolina. That meant he was bound for the “803” and not Clarke County. That’s the logical subject to explore this morning.

DISCLAIMER: This will read a lot like the race the Bulldogs didn’t win for 5-star safety JaCoby Stevens earlier this month. Georgia went in hard and was a major contender, but couldn’t come away with a key defensive back for the Class of 2017. 

Let’s continue with a key point: Georgia did want Jamyest Williams. South Carolina still managed to pry him away. I surmise a lot of the chatter will include the same argument with Williams. That’s his height.

IMG tested Williams with shots in man coverage with a highly-rated and bigger receiver and found success. Williams is right at the 5 feet, 8-inch mark on the growth chart and he’s not going to win all those battles against an elite wideout.

This is a pretty good look at how SEC offensive coordinators will test the nearly 5-foot-9 Williams. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
This is a pretty good look at how SEC offensive coordinators will test the nearly 5-foot-9 Williams. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

That mirrors how Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff won’t win all of the in-state battles for a key recruit. Especially one that South Carolina prioritized as a key to their 2017 class. The goal for Georgia is to just win a lot more of those in-state battles than they have in the past. And that is what is happening so far with the Class of 2017.

Should DawgNation fret the loss of a 5-foot-8-cornerback? Most will easily move on. But fans should be regretting the loss of this 5-foot-8 cornerback. Williams is a leader and an intense competitor who will drive others around him to be great.

He’s special. I have no doubt he will make at least a handful of big plays against Georgia at South Carolina.

The best way to frame this discussion is to offer up the following talking points:

  • Williams and his father both said the decision between Georgia and South Carolina was extremely tough. “It was probably the hardest thing he probably had to do in his life, tell his hometown, his state school, that’s he’s going to play football elsewhere,” J.J. Williams said.
  • Jamyest Williams said Georgia “did all it could” and it came down to “a relationship” in the end. “I just felt like I had a better relationship with coach (Travaris Robinson) and coach (Will) Muschamp.”
  • J.J. Williams, his father, told me his son chose South Carolina because he wanted to build his own legacy. That aligns with what his son told me this summer. Jamyest Williams said when he made his decision, he’d go to a place where he could bring in others to join him.
  • My perception here is that wasn’t possible at Georgia. Five-star safety Richard LeCounte III has established himself as that guy for Georgia. He’s been working on others to join him in Athens for the last nine months.
  • That said, the Grayson cornerback was still a wanted man in Athens. It is hard to imagine any recruiting class in which Williams would not be a standout. His father verified that after his commitment. “He could have gone — let’s get it straight — he could have gone to any school that he wanted to. Nobody dropped Jamyest off their recruiting list.”
  • The flip possibility for Williams will be very nill. His father said that they do not believe in de-committing. Williams does plan to take his five official visits, though.

The four-star cornerback had an up-and-down day. He held his own but was not dominant in man coverage against the bigger IMG receivers. Those targets were also major college prospects. He played both ways and dealt with cramping during the game. He said afterward he was so spent that his feet and shoes were soaking wet with sweat.

Williams fumbled the ball away on a run play early on in the game and it cost Grayson some early momentum, but also rebounded for the biggest play of the game on a 56-yard scoring catch where he snuck past the secondary.

Williams eyeing a flip

Williams said the first thing he aims to do is bring more big-time players like him to Columbia. His first target will be four-star Westlake cornerback A.J. Terrell.

“I am going to flip AJ to South Carolina,” Williams said.

That’s Clemson commitment A.J. Terrell for those keeping track of how Williams has already found a way to show his eventual worth to the South Carolina fanbase. He knows exactly what that rivalry is all about.

‘I am then going to dig deep and find some players who are under-the-radar who are still top-notch and are real dogs,” Williams said. “I can find some dogs. I know what those guys look like on the field.”

He aims to wear his familiar No. 1 at South Carolina.

Gibbs shows what he can do at safety

Georgia wanted Williams, but he was not the school’s biggest recruiting target at Grayson High School.

That has been DeAngelo Gibbs from the moment he transferred there for his senior season. Gibbs is definitely the biggest remaining UGA target at defensive back for 2017. He’s also the most likely pledge to join the secondary, too. The Bulldogs have now lost out on Stevens and Williams and simply cannot afford to lose out on Gibbs. Tennesse appears to be the biggest threat to the Bulldogs on that front.

The Bulldogs have now lost out on Stevens and Williams and simply cannot afford to lose out on Gibbs. Tennesse appears to be the biggest threat to the Bulldogs on that front.

Gibbs just got rated at a new position. He's now the nation's No. 3 safety for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Gibbs just got rated at a new position. He’s now the nation’s No. 3 safety for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Both SEC schools have prioritized the elite athlete. Gibbs got his first major college offer from Baylor back when he was in the eighth grade. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder would probably be the best high school receiver in Georgia if that was his full-time position.

He’s a five-star prospect to some analysts and was ranked as the nation’s No. 4 cornerback on the 247Sports Composite. The key word there is “was.”

247Sports recently moved Gibbs from cornerback to safety. He’s now the No. 3 safety in the 2017 class.

That no doubt took place after watching Gibbs roam around exclusively at safety against IMG. That was my biggest takeaway from the matchup. I made the point early last week that I felt that will be his best position on Saturdays and even Sunday.

Gibbs recently told me he wasn’t sure about his decision, but I project him to Georgia and that would make for an imposing secondary with him and LeCounte at safety. Latavious Brini and William Poole III would be the cornerbacks for the class.

Here’s a clip of his first look at safety against IMG:

In case you missed it …

Oxford (Ala.) LB Kenney “KJ” Britt is part of a crowd of prospects at linebacker which Georgia hopes to add for the Class of 2017. The three-star ILB is an ideal downhill inside linebacker, but he also plays so well in space and coverage that he made the All-Tournament team at Nike’s all-star “The Opening” event in Oregon.

That’s one of many reasons why the run-stuffer is underrated according to his recruiting rankings. He also had the one of the biggest “did you see” highlights from over the weekend among Georgia commits and targets.


Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.


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