A day after Kentucky’s road upset of archrival Louisville in November, future UK quarterback Jarren Williams called the game a “great program win” for the Wildcats.
“We should expect these types of wins,” he told the Herald-Leader at the time.
Williams, who has been committed to the Cats since last summer, hopes to be a part of many similar victories in the future. And despite landing scholarship offers from several other schools in the months since he made that pledge, he considers himself solidly committed to Mark Stoops’ program.
“I just like where the program is headed. It’s going up,” Williams said. “From the first couple of games until the end, there was a lot of progress, and I feel like Coach Stoops is really turning the program around. They’re great coaches, and I feel like I can trust all of them. Great people. It’s a great opportunity.”
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The 6-foot-3, 207-pound prospect was on UK’s campus for the program’s “junior day” event late last month. It was the final weekend before national signing day for recruits in the class of 2017, but it was also a major opportunity for prospects in the 2018 class to get to know UK’s coaches, and vice versa.
Both of Williams’ parents and a couple of other family members accompanied the UK commitment on the 400-mile trip from Lawrenceville, Ga., to Lexington.
A look at UK’s top recruiting targets for 2018
He called the weekend a success, a chance to spend more time with Stoops, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw, who he already talks to at least three times a week. Williams also got to hang with some current players, and — in his role as the future QB and, to this point, UK’s only commitment for the class of 2018 — he spent some time recruiting on the Wildcats’ behalf.
His pitch must be a good one.
Williams said that the fellow recruit he spent the most time with was three-star Florida athlete Shocky Jacques-Louis, who has several power-five scholarship offers but told multiple recruiting websites after his UK visit that the Wildcats were his new top choice.
Shortly after Williams’ recent visit to Lexington, however, another new scholarship offer led to trepidation among some UK fans who have followed his recruitment.
Tennessee extended an offer this month, and Williams was quoted as saying he would take recruiting visits to Knoxville and a few other college campuses. For a UK fan base that watched one-time QB commitment Mac Jones reel in offers from top schools last year, before ultimately flipping to Alabama, that was cause for concern.
While Williams will visit Tennessee this weekend — and he has notified Stoops of that trip — he wanted to clarify his overall plans.
“I’m not planning to visit a whole bunch of schools,” Williams said. “The only school that I have set a visit to is Tennessee. I have nothing else planned.
“(Tennessee) is a great program, and it’s a great opportunity. But I’m just going up there to see what they have to offer. You know, it’s always an honor and privilege for a coach to recognize your abilities on the field and offer you a scholarship.”
The UK coaches recognized those skills early in the process.
Gran told the Herald-Leader recently that Hinshaw, a former standout quarterback at Central Florida, is the “lead dog” when it comes to zeroing in on QB targets. Gran also said that UK’s coaches will not take a commitment from a quarterback until they’ve all seen him throw in person and spent time getting to know him. “It’s very important for them to be on our campus.”
Williams participated in one of UK’s summer camps last June and committed to the Cats less than two weeks later.
I feel like Coach Stoops is really turning the program around. They’re great coaches, and I feel like I can trust all of them.
Jarren Williams, UK football commitment
Though Rivals.com, ESPN and 247Sports all rank him with the dual-threat quarterbacks, Williams describes himself as “a pocket-passer that has the ability to extend plays with my feet,” mentioning the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and the Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston as two NFL quarterbacks he looks up to.
Williams completed 64.4 percent of his passes this past season, throwing for 2,618 yards, 26 touchdowns and just two interceptions while also rushing for 425 yards and nine TDs.
He’s been invited to participate in the upcoming regional stop for The Opening — the nation’s premier high school quarterback competition — and he said he’s planning to come to Lexington to observe at least a couple of practices this spring.
If everything goes according to plan, Williams will be out on the field with the Wildcats next April. He’s on track to graduate from high school in December and enroll early in classes at UK.
“I think you get an edge,” he said. “You get there and get a chance to learn the offense and go through spring practice. And you get a chance to compete, that’s the biggest thing.”