Like so many Division I college football recruits over the years, Hendrickson High wide receiver Jaden Williams of Pflugerville, Texas, once had plans of taking numerous visits and waiting to unveil his commitment.
Then, the coronavirus cut down on the visits, and the steady contact by UL’s coaching staff made those plans change in a hurry.
So once Williams narrowed his choices down to two schools, that final step turned out being easier than he originally expected.
Williams eliminated any doubt this past weekend by verbally committing to the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Carencro High School running back Kendrell Williams had more college scholarship offers than he can remember on most days.
“It started off pretty difficult, but at the end, it wasn’t really difficult (decision),” said Williams, who is the eight verbal commitment for the Cajuns so far. “Louisiana was on me from the jump. They just expressed to me every day how much they trusted me and how much they wanted me there.”
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound receiver also got offers from Tulsa, Tulane, Arkansas State and Abilene Christian.
He narrowed his choices down to UL and Tulane before selecting the Cajuns on Saturday.
“They (UL coaches) said they liked my speed, how I’m electric on the field and what I’ll bring to the table when I go there,” Williams said.
Williams said he hadn’t followed UL’s program during his high school career, but he made up for lost time by studying the program pretty hard since that first offer.
There was a time not long ago that baseball filled the mind of Ouachita Christian quarterback Hunter Herring.
“I just had to do a lot of research on the program on things like the head coach (Billy Napier),” Williams said. “I like him a lot. I’ve had a lot of conversations with him. I did a lot of research and I just liked everything about it.
“I was going to wait, but I felt like I had narrowed my schools down to two and I just didn’t think time was going to change my mind.”
Williams had 855 receiving yards during his junior season. He was also recruited by numerous basketball programs, but “I think they all kind of knew I was a football player.”
At Hendrickson High, coach Chip Killian said Williams does it all.
On offense, he plays out side, in the slot and is also utilized as a Wildcat quarterback.
“We hadn’t used him as a running back, just because I’d rather just snap it to him and get more people blocking,” Killian said.
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Defensively, he’s used occasionally as a deep safety at the end of halves.
“If we’re playing an exceptional receiver, we may just put him on that guy and tell him to go play basketball,” Killian added.
In the kicking game, he’s a return guy.
“Nobody kicks it to him, but we put him back there,” Killian laughed. “That’s the beauty of that deal.”
But primarily, Williams is a No. 1 target at wide receiver.
“He’s done absolutely everything for us,” Killian said. “I don’t know how they’re going to use him there, but he can do anything you ask him to do ‚ offensive, defense, special teams. He’s clearly one of the most explosive players we’ve had on the field and we’ve had some good ones.
“He does all kinds of stuff. He makes amazing catches — deep balls, short balls, slant routes. He’s one of the top two receivers we’ve had in the 12 years I’ve been here.”
It’s pretty unusual to issue a verbal commitment to a football program without even visiting the campus.
Killian also gives Williams good grades on his personality as well.
“I call him ‘Cool Breeze’ because he’s always chilling,” the coach said. “He’s always got a smile on his face. You’d think that he’s really laid back, but he’s a really amazing competitor. All he wants to do is win. He just does a really nice job of always being positive and always staying real cool.”
Killian said he wouldn’t be surprised if Williams plays relatively soon for the Cajuns once he arrives next fall.
“He’s a smart young man,” he said. “His football IQ is solid. I think they will expand his role as he progresses, but I would think he’d get in there as good as they put him through some type of fall install.”
During his senior season, Williams has plans on improving to be ready for when that day comes.
"This season, I’m going to be looking to become a more physical receiver and a better route runner," Williams said.
The UL Ragin’ Cajuns’ first verbal commitment for the 2021 recruiting class was Logansport cornerback Key’Savalyn Barnes last month.