Better Know a Buckeye: Antonio Williams

By Vico on June 3, 2016 at 10:10 am
Antonio Williams at Ohio State's 2016 spring game

Our "Better Know a Buckeye" series continues with its 17th installment. We profile Antonio Williams, a running back from New London, North Carolina.

Antonio Williams

  • Size: 5-11/215
  • Position: RB
  • (Hometown) School: New London, NC (North Stanly)
  • 247 Composite: ★★★★
  • National Ranking: 168
  • Position Ranking: 7 (RB)
  • State Ranking: 5 (NC)

Williams, a distant relative of long-time NFLer Brian Dawkins, had a long and winding recruitment since his freshman year of high school. Programs like Clemson and North Carolina in his region identified him as one of the top prospects in his class. He even committed to North Carolina early in his sophomore season before flipping to Wisconsin during his junior year. He later jumped on a new opening to be in Ohio State's recruiting class on October 18 of last year.

I retell this recruitment below and discuss why he eventually came to Ohio State's recruiting class. I provide a scouting report thereafter of a solid powerback from a small rural high school program in North Carolina. I then provide a projection of a redshirt in 2016 before concluding with highlight film from Williams' senior year.


Antonio Williams had arguably the most eventful recruitment of anyone in Ohio State's 2016 recruiting class. He's the only one who had committed to two other schools before finally signing with Ohio State.

His story starts during his freshman year of high school. Though he hails from a small rural high school with an enrollment of just 560 students, recruiting analysts had him pegged as one of the top prospects in the state for his 2016 recruiting class. He already boasted verbal offers from regional heavyweights like Clemson, Georgia, North Carolina, and North Carolina State. Georgia held a special place as the football program he grew up watching while North Carolina was his first scholarship offer.

He expressed a strong interest in other programs, especially Michigan, in the summer after his freshman year, but he gravitated more toward the Tar Heels as time progressed. Trips to Chapel Hill from his New London home (which is between Charlotte and Raleigh) were short. That was one major reason his mother was high on UNC. North Carolina also had the highest academic profile of any program that had offered him.

An early August visit solidified North Carolina as the team to beat for Williams' services. A commitment followed a month and a half later. Williams pledged to the Tar Heels on September 16, 2013 early into his sophomore year.

Programs around the country did not take this commitment seriously. An increase in his profile may have been an unintended consequence of this early decision. A stellar sophomore season after which MaxPreps anointed him as a Sophomore All-American led to new interest from major programs like Florida and LSU. John Chavis visited him at his high school in May. Florida and Wisconsin offered him as well. Antonio Williams took to Twitter to announce his loyalty to North Carolina's program but the writing was on the wall.

Williams decommitted from North Carolina on July 11, 2014, less than two months after this tweet.

A coveted offer from Michigan came just two weeks later, but Wisconsin looked to be the new favorite as Williams entered his junior year. Wisconsin runs the same basic offense that Williams' high school program ran. Wisconsin's running back history during Williams' lifetime precedes itself as well. Williams took to Twitter to announce Wisconsin as his new favorite.

He later announced a public commitment to Wisconsin on December 4, 2014, notwithstanding recent offers from Auburn and Notre Dame.

Williams pledged to shut down his recruitment after that decision, but never did. Gary Andersen's sudden departure for Oregon State less than a week after Williams' public commitment only unsettled things. Thomas Brown's departure as running backs coach in February of last year made matters worse for Wisconsin. Brown was a major reason Williams chose Wisconsin. Williams recruitment had gone from "over" to "wait and see".

He remained committed to Wisconsin for several months thereafter until Ohio State contacted him in October. The Buckeyes had offered him well before this date, but both parties ultimately looked elsewhere. Ohio State had a running back commitment (Kareem Walker) and Williams had a program he liked more. However, Ohio State's position with Kareem Walker was tenuous (he later signed with Michigan) while Williams was open to a new home amid the uncertainty at Wisconsin.

Williams had to think quick, though. He planned to enroll in January wherever he landed. He decommitted from Wisconsin about three days after Ohio State contacted him again and three days before his scheduled official visit.

His visit to Ohio State went so well he announced his decision a day later.


Antonio Williams committed to Ohio State on October 18, 2015 as the 17th member of its 2016 recruiting class.

Williams discussed the nature of his commitment with Eleven Warriors.

"(I couldn't pass up) the opportunity to play for great coaches like (Urban) Meyer and (Tony) Alford, to become a better man from these two," Williams continued. "I'll get to compete for a national championship every year and play closer to home where my family can come watch and also to receive a great degree."

Williams said he was done after that decision and meant it this time. He enrolled at Ohio State in January.


Ohio State wanted a power back in this recruiting class and got it with Antonio Williams.

Williams' greatest attribute may be his size. He's a solid 5-11. Ohio State lists him at 212 pounds. This is great size for the kind of workload Williams will have should he become a No. 1 back at Ohio State.

He's a powerful runner too. His competition on film is not the best, but do see how well he runs between tackles, and through would-be tacklers.

Williams is not a speed-demon but he is generally quicker than a standard power back. You'll see it in his cuts too.


Every prospect transitioning from high school to college will need to adjust the higher level of competition. This may be true in particular for Antonio Williams, who came from a small rural high school in North Carolina. He has the talent and the potential, but his adjustment will be tough.

Williams does not have great top-end speed. He's not a threat to break a long touchdown run like Ezekiel Elliott was. This is ultimately fine and not a debilitating limitation that will preclude him from the field, but it's worth noting.

Elliott's three-year career at Ohio State may have put a new emphasis on blocking in pass protection. Ohio State fans know well that Meyer called him the most selfless player without the ball he's ever coached. Williams is all-runner right now. He'll need to learn how to lead block and block in pass protection.

My final comment concerns his pad level. He can run a bit high at the point of attack, which will cost him the ability to run through the line of scrimmage at the collegiate level. Coaches can readily correct this, though.


Williams' January enrollment and the departure of Ezekiel Elliott would otherwise mean he could sneak some carries as a true freshman. However, Bri'onte Dunn is poised for a good senior year. Curtis Samuel returns while Mike Weber is coming off a redshirt. I think Williams will likely redshirt as a result.


Here are mid-season highlights from Williams' senior year at North Stanly.


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