The combination of the Miami Hurricanes’ 7-1 start and their star-studded 2021 recruiting class has given five-star safety commit James Williams of American Heritage one major takeaway.
“The U is back,” Williams said after his Patriots avenged last season’s playoff loss to Miami Northwestern with a 12-3 win on Friday night. “That’s all I got to say: The U is back. You can see. We got great football players from South Florida going home, staying home and wanting to ball.”
While the UM football team is on a two-week pause due to a COVID-19 outbreak, Williams wants to see his Hurricanes finish the season strong so that the class, ranked No. 12 by Rivals and 13 by 247 Sports, can build off of it.
“Keep that momentum going because it ain’t going to stop here,” said Williams, ranked the nation’s No. 12 overall prospect by 247. “We got more work to do, get back in the lab. … A winning mentality. I don’t want to see ‘Miami ain’t back. Miami ain’t this.’ I want to see a winning mentality.”
Along with Williams, UM’s 2021 recruiting class has fellow five-star prospect in Miami Palmetto defensive tackle Leonard Taylor, who recently got bumped up to the nation’s third-ranked prospect by 247. Other four-star defensive recruits among the 21 commitments in Miami’s class are: Miami Northwestern safety Kamren Kinchens, Palmetto defensive tackle Savion Collins, Miami Columbus defensive end Jabari Ishmael and Melbourne’s Chase Smith, who is expected to play UM’s safety-linebacker hybrid position of striker.
“I want to surround myself with great people,” Williams said. “I don’t want to be the only best player on the team. I want to see everybody on the field be great.
“Greatness around me — just like the ’01 Miami. How many first-round draft picks [were on that team]? That’s what I’m trying to get it back to.”
Williams and Kinchens were going head to head on Friday night, while Northwestern also has UM commits in receiver Romello Brinson and tight end Kahlil Brantley after Bulls cornerback Tim Burns Jr. recently decommitted from the Hurricanes.
Williams was active, moving from a traditional safety spot to sometimes lining up closer to the box. He was solid in coverage, in on several tackles, some for loss, and had a fumble recovery on a strip-sack by standout junior defensive end Marvin Jones Jr. Kinchens was playing single-high safety much of the night for Northwestern, and Heritage never really went after him up top.
The two can complement each other once at Miami. Postgame, they complimented one another’s game.
“Great player. Can’t wait to play with him,” Kinchens said of Williams. “He had a great game. Only thing I can do is look forward to playing with him.”
Said Williams of Kinchens: “He’s got great ball skills. He got what I don’t got, and I got what he don’t got, so now it’s coming together as one. Best safeties in the country.”
One thing the 2021 UM class is still missing in November — with December’s Early Signing Period quickly approaching — is a quarterback. Hurricanes commits remain steadfast on attempting to flip Southern Cal commit Jake Garcia.
Garcia, from California, has been committed to USC since September 2019, but last June, the Trojans also added a commitment from fellow four-star pro-style passer Miller Moss. Garcia transferred to Grayson High in Loganville, Georgia for his senior season of high school.
“I’m getting after him. I’m going to try my hardest to get him,” Williams said. “He’s still trying to [say he’s set with USC]. I’m going to leave it up to God.”
Said Brantley of his talks with Garcia: “I’m still trying to get at Jake Garcia while he’s up there doing his thing at Grayson. Just going to keep working on him, see when push come to shove when Signing Day gets here… I feel like we’re still in it.”
At 6-foot-5, Williams has gotten his weight down to 215 pounds after playing at 230 last season. It’s where he wants to be in order to play his preferred position of safety in college. He said, before he gets to UM, he wants to make strides in speed, agility and lateral quickness to “be a whole different person when I step on the Miami football field.”
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