Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest with 5-star commitment Justin Williams. He ranks as the nation’s No. 1 LB and the No. 11 overall prospect for 2024 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. The On3 Industry Ranking has him as the nation’s No. 1 LB and the No. 9 overall recruit.

When most of DawgNation thinks about Justin Williams, they come up with something akin to the following from their respective thought trees:

  • Nation’s No. 1 LB for 2024
  • Third-highest-rated ‘Dawg in the class and the fourth UGA commit rated No. 1 in the country at his position
  • Stands as the highest-rated pure LB prospect to commit to UGA in Kirby Smart’s time
  • HS teammate of that beast DL commit Joseph Jonah-Ajonye in this year’s top-rated class

What we aim to do here at DawgNation - especially within this particular slice of real estate on our amazingly revamped site for the 2023 season - is to flip the script on all of those easy talking points for the tailgate and the water cooler.

The scope of every Intel post is to upgrade the memory bank with those stars and rankings that the recruiting industry brands these young men so well with something more. Something different.

When you hear the name Justin Williams moving forward, we want you to think of the terms “unselfish” and “church camp” and the phrase “GPA higher than his 4.4 time in the 40″in the future.

That’s when you will really begin to see why Justin Williams is so special. Then maybe why do those that know him best deem him to be even a little bit beyond that?

To accomplish all of that with this rep, we rely on some very candid thoughts from the head football coach at Oak Ridge High School in Texas. That’s Mark Schmid.

Let’s start with that “unselfish” part of the Justin Williams story. His close friends around the Oak Ridge program call him “Justo” when they are just hanging out. Or at least Joseph-Ajonye does.

That’s the first 5-star story we can dial up with Williams.

Justin Williams: Why the word “unselfish” stands out

Schmid starts off with a middle school story about Williams.

“I knew Justin was an outstanding football player all the way back when he was in the eighth grade,” Schmid said. “He was a running back and a linebacker and he was a dominant presence on the junior high field.”

He excelled at those two positions as a freshman at Oak Ridge. Yet toward the end of the 2020 season, the injury bug hit the varsity team. This was while they were in the playoffs.

“We had to bring him up as a freshman to play a nickel spot in our secondary for two playoff games,” Schmid said. “We won the first one and didn’t win the second one but he completely shined in that role as a freshman.”

Williams led the Oak Ridge varsity in tackles in that second playoff game. It set him up for a big sophomore season. As a sophomore, he was set to be the starting running back on the varsity team.

Well, until the injured list started to take down the projected starters in the secondary. There was an ACL injury to an already wafer-thin spot.

There was a Sunday staff meeting that tried to identify who they could move to fill that spot and play winning football.

“The resounding voice from just about everybody on the staff was the only guy that could go over there and not be a liability was Justin,” Schmid said. “We approached Justin that Monday about him relinquishing his role as our starting running back and going over to the defensive side of the ball.”

“We thought it was going to be a touchy situation and he handled it with such class. He was like ‘Coach where ever you guys need me’ and to me that speaks volumes about the kid and the kind of person he is. He’s completely unselfish. How many people want to give up touching the rock 20 times a game? Scoring touchdowns? Getting your name heard over the PA and seeing your name on social media and scoring touchdowns? To potentially going to the other side of the ball and being unnoticed.”

“That’s what he did.”

Well, except for that “unnoticed” part.

“Immediately when he went over there and started playing on the defensive side of the ball the eyes started to open amongst the college recruiters,” Schmid said. “The following year we moved him down into the box and the recruiting just blew up on him.”

“Now he’s unselfish and he’s a team guy. That’s what stands out to me about him. He’s a great football player, too. But those two traits -- those qualities right there -- is what makes him really special.”

Truth be told, the physical skills that he brings to the table would have made him an impact player where ever he lined. Even if Oak Ridge had perfect health in the secondary in his first two seasons of high school football.

Story No. 2: Justin Williams and church camp

Schmid brags about Williams for the person that he is as much as those highlight reel tackles behind the line. There’s an ever-present smile in all his pictures.

Conscientious. Respectful. Good student. Those are the terms he used to describe his off-field demeanor and how all the teachers and administrators at Oak Ridge High School.

“He’s very endearing for people to talk to,” Schmid said.

It is not often that even an All-American can say that his grade-point average (4.6) is higher than his 40 time (4.4) but Williams is that kind of student.

“The good thing about that is he ran those 4.4s here but he also ran them at the different camps he went to,” Schmid said. “When I tell a recruiter he’s a 4.4 guy they are like ‘he’s probably a 4.5 or a low 4.6′ and I can see it in their eyes. But he did it at several camps. So it’s justified. It’s bonafide. For somebody his size to do that, it is really impressive.”

There’s a story that ties into the young man’s desire to graduate early.

“We had kind of set it up for him to graduate early and build a schedule but it would mean he was going to be taking some summer school,” Schmid said.

Williams could Schmid he couldn’t do that. That drew the expected measure of astonishment from his coach.

“He goes ‘I’ve got church camp and I’m not missing it’ and I was like what are we going to do?” Schmid said.

The 5-star suggested speaker to his college counselors, but he was adamant about not missing his week of church camp. It was held in Florida this year.

“To me, it tells me where his priorities are,” Schmid said. “Do you know what I am saying? It is very clear when you talk to Justin to know where he is and where the priorities lie with him.”

He walks the walk with his faith. There a line atop his Twitter bio that reads “God first” and that’s exactly what he centers his life around.

Oak Ridge High found a way to juggle church camp into his schedule. He’s taking an online course through Texas Tech to be able to graduate early in December and return to UGA in January.

Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com “Before the Hedges” program is available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it.

5-star senior Justin Williams is rated as the nation's No. 1 LB for the Class of 2024. The speedy Texan has UGA among his top schools. (Instagram) (Courtesy photo/Dawgnation)

What all the college coaches see in Justin Williams

Check out this junior film. Go ahead.

It offers up the best of the plays he made in 2022. As stated earlier, it was just his first year as a starting LB in the Oak Ridge defense.

That didn’t keep him from tallying up 95 tackles, 17 tackles for losses and 8.5 sacks.

The instincts and the physicality he brings to bear on rep after rep made him a natural linebacker.

Schmid said that Williams offers up a lot in the highlight realm, but there’s one specific play that catches the attention of everyone who breaks down that film.

“It is the plays when they have and they are usually on the perimeter where they have got it blocked pretty well and as a coach you are standing on the sideline and you’re going ‘Oh crap this could get or this is going to be a big run for them’ and he comes out of nowhere and just slips underneath a block and he’s coming 100 miles per hour and he tackles a guy for no gain or a loss.”

“From your vantage point you are going ‘Ok this is going to be a first down for them’ and here he comes and he does that time and time again. Those are the ones I am most impressed by.”

That’s not all that attracted the big-boy schools. Williams eventually came down to a decision between Georgia and Oregon.

“They like his speed,” Schmid said. “He’s in the middle of the box for us. He can roam sideline to sideline. They liked his ability to do that. They liked his length. He’s 6-foot-3 and he’s got a pretty good wingspan. When you are playing that ‘Mike’ ‘backer and have got that kind of stretch to you it makes it hard to throw those RPOs over the middle.”

“They like his burst. How explosive he is. How he can explode into a tackle. How he can accelerate to the ball. They love the fact that he is physical. He just doesn’t tackle you. Arm tackle you. He’s bringing it and he’s coming with some impact.”

Williams also ran track at Oak Ridge this spring. That was a sight seeing his 6-foot-3 frame and 210 or 215 pounds plowing through his lane on race day.

“He’s not a 10-point guy but he’s 11 flat in the 100 meters as a junior,” Schmid said. “He’s an impressive athlete. Got an I don’t know a 38 or a 39-inch vertical. He’s blessed with some wonderful talents.”

Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with key 2024 prospects like Daniel Calhoun, Dwight Phillips Jr., Dylan Raiola and Sacovie White.


(check on the recent reads on Georgia football recruiting)