After three weeks of soul searching, highly touted quarterback Jarren Williams is once again part of UK’s recruiting class of 2018.
Williams — a 6-foot-2, 205 pound prospect from Lawrenceville, Ga. — originally committed to Kentucky last June. Since then, he has received scholarship offers from several top college programs, including most of the teams in the Southeastern Conference.
The new interest in his recruitment prompted Williams to decommit from the Wildcats last month, though he said at the time that UK was still at the top of his list and he hoped the Kentucky coaching staff would continue to recruit him.
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana State and Tennessee were among the top programs that extended scholarship offers to Williams in recent weeks.
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UK quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw, Williams’ primary contact at Kentucky, and the Wildcats’ ace recruiter, Vince Marrow, traveled to Georgia recently to visit with the quarterback, and he re-committed to UK on Monday, announcing his decision on Kentucky Sports Radio.
“My heart’s always been with Kentucky, so I’m making that move,” Williams said on the show. “Talking to Coach Hinshaw and Coach Stoops, and praying about it a lot, I just really got that feeling that this was the spot for me. So we decided to shut it all down and come back home.”
Before his decommitment, Williams was recruiting on behalf of the Wildcats, selling the program to other top prospects in the class of 2018 from his position as the team’s quarterback of the future.
UK Coach Mark Stoops, who is not allowed to comment on Williams specifically until he signs with the Wildcats, did talk to the Herald-Leader last week about the importance of having a commitment at the quarterback position early in the recruiting timeline.
“I think quarterback is what everybody wants to discuss all the time,” he said. “And let’s face it, you need to have a good one and you need to have some depth there. That’s a position that’s very unique because, generally speaking, they need to pick a program and you need to pick your guy because you get that marriage very early because it’s such an important position.
“Defensive backs, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, you recruit so many of them and with that (QB) position, it’s just unique. It just is. It’s talked about more. People identify with it more. It’s critically important. It’s very hard to have a great team without a great quarterback.”
Williams was instrumental in helping UK recruit three-star wide receiver Shocky Jacques-Louis, who committed to the Cats last month, and he’s certain to continue his recruiting efforts with other top Kentucky targets now that he’s back in the fold.
Returning starter Stephen Johnson will play his final season for the Cats this fall, but Williams will share the roster with several other quarterbacks when he gets to Kentucky.
Drew Barker and Luke Wright will both be seniors in 2018, Gunnar Hoak will be a sophomore and class of 2017 signees Danny Clark and Walker Wood could be redshirt freshmen in 2018, depending on whether or not they play this season.
Williams threw for 2,618 yards, 26 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 2016 — completing 64.4 percent of his passes — while also rushing for 425 yards and nine touchdowns. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 13 dual-threat QB nationally in the 2018 class, though Williams identifies as a pass-first quarterback and has also received an invitation to the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp.
He is the ninth member of UK’s recruiting class of 2018, and he plans to enroll at UK in January, a move that would allow him to participate in spring practice with the Cats. He also said Monday that his recruitment is now over, and there’s no danger of a second decommitment.
“I’m shutting it down. This is it now,” he said. “I know where my heart belongs, and I’m committed 100 percent.”