The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their college careers, as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.
Despite practically growing up in the long shadow of Ohio Stadium, four-star cornerback commit Marcus Williamson wasn't exactly the biggest Ohio State fan growing up. That all changed, however, when Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus.
The Williamson File
SIZE: 5-foot-9, 180 pounds
SCHOOL: IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
COMPOSITE RANKING: ★★★★
COMPOSITE RANK: 16 (CB)
"I've just gained a lot of respect for the program and the tradition it has," Williamson said after a stellar showing at the Buckeyes' Friday Night Lights recruiting camp in the summer of 2014. "Urban Meyer coming in and winning 24 straight games is pretty crazy. It shows how great of a coach he is to have such an immediate turnaround."
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Williamson had only a handful of offers from programs such as Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee when Ohio State came calling during his sophomore season at Westerville South. But he made up his mind fairly quickly and committed in April 2015.
Williamson was on campus for the spring game, his second-consecutive weekend visit, and Ohio State was able to seal the deal thanks in part to an aggressive recruiting approach by [defensive backs coach] Kerry Coombs, who led the way in Williamson's recruitment.
"I’d say [I knew during] the Ohio State-Michigan game. I know I committed in April, but that’s when I made up my mind,” Williamson said. “That winter I kind of put it in the back of my head, but I had known where I wanted to go.”
Williamson made the 15- to 20-minute drive to campus often following his pledge, which only solidified his decision. So much so that offers from Louisville, Miami and Notre Dame barely made a blip on the radar.
"It's just going back to that building relationships kind of thing," he said. "When you get here, you wanna be comfortable. So it’s all about that.”
Williamson was named first-team all-district and honorable mention all-state during his junior season but transferred to IMG Academy to because he felt it would better prepare him for college. It helped, too, that he was joined in Bradenton, Florida, by fellow Ohio State defensive back commit Isaiah Pryor.
"I kind of hate to leave Ohio, but in the grand scheme of things, it's only for a short while," he said. "I was impressed by what they've got going on down there. It's a boarding school, so it's just a complete immersion into being a student-athlete."
Williamson recorded 36 total tackles, two fumble recoveries and one interception during his senior year to help the Ascenders to their second consecutive undefeated season. He was also named an Under Armour-All American, and played in the annual all-star exhibition last week.
Young football players dream of being an All-American. Older football players wish they had the opportunity to be recognized as one of the best in the country. It truly is a humbling experience, and having almost three dozen family members and friends there to support me made it that much more special.
Like several other early enrollees, Williamson enrolled in classes on Monday. He isn't the most heralded of the bunch, but certainly won't shy away from the competition.