After the first day of action at The Opening Finals in Oregon last week, 247Sports director of scouting Barton Simmons described Jarren Williams as the “total package” at the quarterback position.
Williams, who is committed to Kentucky, went in to the camp — arguably the biggest summer event in football recruiting — as a highly touted prospect, but he was one of the lowest-ranked players among the 12 quarterbacks invited to the showcase.
Simmons remarked after that first day that he was looking forward to seeing more of Williams over the course of the camp. He wasn’t disappointed.
“The big takeaway with Jarren is there are very few holes in his game,” Simmons told the Herald-Leader this week. “And that’s kind of what I meant by the ‘total package.’ It’s hard to find a weakness. There are other guys that are better in any one category, but he’s not deficient anywhere. I felt like he was one of the best quarterbacks there, in terms of his ability to digest the offenses they were being asked to learn. In terms of his comfort level, going through his reads and progressions. And his accuracy and control over the position.”
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The team of 247Sports recruiting analysts that covered the event ultimately ranked Williams as the No. 5 quarterback there. That’s quite an accomplishment considering the four players ranked above him included the No. 1-ranked pro-style and dual-threat QBs in the 2018 class, respectively, the No. 3 pro-style QB in the class, and the No. 6 dual-threat QB in the class.
Williams, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 9 dual-threat QB for 2018, outperformed the pro-style quarterbacks ranked in the No. 2, 4 and 5 spots nationally, as well as several other highly touted passers.
In past interviews with the Herald-Leader, Williams has always described himself as a pass-first quarterback who can make things happen with his legs if he needs to.
That’s the player Simmons saw over the past few days.
“I just consider him a quarterback,” he said. “I think it’s a big bonus that he is athletic and he’s capable of doing damage with his legs, but he’s certainly not a run-first guy. He is a guy that’s capable of winning a game purely with his arm.
“He is, to me, just a really sound quarterback with yet another check mark in the box of athleticism.”
Williams completed 68 percent of his pass attempts at The Opening Finals, threw six touchdown passes and, by all accounts, looked the part of a major-college QB.
The Elite 11 coaches were also impressed by his showing, on and off the field.
One of those coaches, Yogi Roth, told USA Today that Williams has the quality of an “absolute star” and attracts the attention of other great players.
Simmons heard similar things during his conversations with coaches at the event.
“They were really impressed with the way he carried himself throughout the week,” he said. “They’re dealing with those guys in the classroom setting, and they’re seeing those guys interact with their teammates. It’s clear that Jarren Williams has that part of it covered. It’s just another check that you can mark off. He’s got that. He is someone, I think, that has the right demeanor and the right temperament.”
Williams went through an agonizing stretch in his recruitment earlier this spring. He attracted a ton of attention from other major programs — that included scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Louisiana State, Florida and home-state Georgia, to name a few — decommitted from UK, then re-committed to the Wildcats about three weeks later, around the time that Vince Marrow became his primary recruiter.
He’s said since then that he’s done looking at other schools and is all in with UK.
Assuming that commitment sticks through signing day, Simmons said Williams could end up being the best QB signee in the SEC East during this cycle, and he’ll be “one of the best quarterback signees in the SEC, period,” the analyst said.
He’ll also be given a higher ranking in the coming weeks, another honor for a player that has already earned four-star status from every major recruiting service with his play over the course of the camp season.
“Jarren is going to move up in our rankings,” Simmons said. “Where we put him in the pecking order of quarterbacks, we’ll sort through that over the next few days. But I think he’s proven himself over and over again this spring and summer.”