Highly touted high school quarterback Jarren Williams had quite the spring.
There was a run of impressive scholarship offers — from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana State, Miami and Tennessee — a decommitment and recommitment to the University of Kentucky, and some impressive showings on the national camp circuit.
The roller-coaster ride for the UK football fans who have followed Williams these past few months has settled in recent weeks, with the Georgia native now concentrating on his senior season and seemingly firm in his commitment to the Cats.
The big question among those fans has gone from, “Will he stay to committed?” to “Why isn’t he ranked higher?”
The updated Rivals 250 rankings were released last week, and — though Williams has risen to four-star status on that and every other national website — he was not included among the top 250 high school prospects in the 2018 class. There were 19 quarterbacks on the list, but Williams was not one of them.
That placement isn’t unique to Rivals either. Williams is behind 17 other quarterbacks in the 247Sports composite rankings.
How could that be, with offers from places like Alabama, LSU and other SEC powers?
There are a few reasons for the omission, Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell told the Herald-Leader.
First, not all offers are the same, as those who follow recruiting know all too well.
“A lot of people get crazy about offers,” Farrell said. “The thing with Jarren is he blew up so fast. And a few of the offers — Alabama, for one, was contingent on throwing at a summer camp, so it’s not really a committable offer yet.
“He got a lot of offers and blew up in the spring because — once you see quarterbacks starting to commit — you see a lot of other schools start to offer the best available, next-tier guy. And that’s where I think Jarren stands.”
That’s not to say that some of his big-time offers aren’t committable ones. LSU, for instance, is a program that has continued to recruit Williams despite his commitment to Kentucky.
But rankings, for the most part, aren’t driven by scholarship offers.
The biggest thing keeping Williams out of the Rivals 250, for now, is consistency.
As a sophomore, the 6-foot-3 prospect earned the starting job at Shiloh High School and showed flashes of high-level talent, but he completed only 47 percent of his passes. That inconsistency carried over into the following camp season.
“Last spring when I saw him, his accuracy was just awful,” Farrell said. “His mechanics, his stride, everything about throwing the ball looked uncomfortable. And then, during (his junior) season, you could see progression in his mechanics, his balance, his accuracy. And then in the spring, he took that next step.”
Williams completed 60 percent of his passes as a junior — at his current school, Central Gwinnett (Ga.) — and threw 26 touchdown passes to just four interceptions. He carried that success over into this past camp season, completing 68 percent of his passes at The Opening Finals last month.
Rivals.com’s analysts have Williams as a four-star player, but they want to see more before moving him into those Rivals 250 rankings.
“We didn’t go overboard, because we’re not sure where his ceiling is,” Farrell said. “So we’re going to see how he does this season and then make a final evaluation in January. He could move up.
“When you see a kid who moves from being so inaccurate and having so many mechanical flaws to smoothing everything out, you kind of want to see if that consistency can be maintained. And that’s what we’re looking for.”
Farrell said that kind of improvement isn’t abnormal for quarterbacks considered to be dual-threat players — those who can also make plays with their feet — and such players sometimes level off after such a burst of development.
Williams will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself further.
The Rivals.com analysts will monitor his progress throughout his senior season. That process will include poring over game film, comparing Williams’ latest games to last season’s video. There will also be in-person evaluations, as well as consultations with coaches who see him play. The next update to the rankings will happen in early December, and then a final ranking will come out in January to account for late-in-the-year playoffs and all-star games.
“Especially with quarterbacks, you want to see what’s different,” Farrell said. “The depths on their drops, their footwork, their balance, their weight shift, release point. For the quarterbacks, we’ll evaluate them on the body of work, and that’s a long process.”
Through his first two games of the season, Williams has a 61.2 completion rate with six touchdown passes and just one interception. He has thrown for more than 300 yards in both games.
“He’s off to a good start,” Farrell said. “We’ll see if he’s hit his ceiling or not. So far, he’s looked like he’s improved from last year.”