“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
Harding has sent Prescott Burgess, Mario Manningham, and classmate Davion Rogers to M recently.
If you are looking for information on Warren Harding wide receiver DeAver (or, more commonly, DJ) Williamson, the internet will readily tell you he is fast. Picking one of a dozen articles about this year's Ohio state track meet at random yields the following:
Warren Harding's DeAver Williamson might well have earned the title of fastest man at the meet. The senior repeated as state champion in the D-I 100 (10.64) and also won the 200 (21.46). He also ran legs on two Harding relays, which finished third in the 800 relay and sixth in the 400 relay.
One wonders what a kid has to do at a track meet for the uncertainty about whether he's the fastest guy there to evaporate. Not only did he win the events where being really fast is important, but his 10.64 100 would have been faster had he not gone Usain Bolt at the end of it:
Anyway, if you give DJ Williamson some lycra and maybe a baton and tell him to run in a straight line he's excellent at it. The internet shouts this on every Google results page.
When it comes to the other stuff with the helmets and the changing directions and possibly getting blasted by some other guy with a helmet, however, it's remarkably hard to find out anything. For example, Scout's got all of five articles and not even the cursory scouting report they give most players. I'm not saying that DJ Williamson's scholarship offer is part of a plot to graft his legs onto Michigan's other incoming wide receivers—to a man strapping, polished types recruiting sites say move like garbage trucks—but I'm not not saying it either. We have a Life Sciences Institute, after all.
If Williamson's recruitment was not a diabolical plot to create the planet's first GMO wideout, he's going to have to put in some work to see the field. He started off with a fair amount of hype, finding himself #10 on Ohio High's early 2008 top ten list for his class, but as you can see above that was by far the high water mark for his stock. He was the only recruit in this class to get just two stars from Scout; he checks in as a low three star (5.5) on Rivals and fails to make their list of the top 100 wide receivers nationally.
ESPN does like him a lot($), though, so they're obviously right about his potential. Their primary takeaway is not surprising:
Williamson's greatest asset is his top end speed. This kid can really go and stretch the field. He reaches top gear in a hurry and is capable of not only getting over the top of defenders, but also making that first stab after the catch and splitting the seam as a homerun threat. He is a slashing type runner, not a jitterbug. Wastes little time establishing his intentions. He has quality size and the frame to gain significant strength and bulk over time. … Stabs and cuts with precision and has big upside to become a dangerous route runner for the next level because of his speed and ability to create separation.
The only downside is a "lack of natural wiggle"; correspondingly they have him just outside the top 50 receivers nationally. That's not spectacular but it's a far cry from #168 or We Can't Be Bothered. Meanwhile, someone get Lemming a paper bag:
Here is another WR with All American potential. The brilliant speed and athletic ability has not yet translated to difference maker but that could happen as early as this fall.
He catches the ball away from his body, can turn up field quickly, and can create after the catch. Very fast, his hands have really improved over the past year and he certainly shows the athleticism to excel in the college ranks. His leaping ability and long arms allows him to get his hands on the ball before the defenders do.
That's about it as far as guru descriptions of his game go, and that latter is unreliable given Lemming's excitability. There is a Rivals piece from before his senior year says "speed will never be an issue" with him but that he's "still growing into a natural receiver," FWIW.
However, whenever there's a Warren Harding kid on the radar of D-I colleges Buckeye Planet gets frequent visits from Worm02, an established close observer of the school. I will make a brilliant deductive leap and hazard a guess that he graduated from WGH in 2002. Worm on Williamson's situation:
He hasn't been able to light up the stat sheet because Harding had an athlete at quarterback the last two years. His arm wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. Throw in scrambles, sacks, over/underthrows, etc., you have low production numbers. His film on Scouting Ohio is solid, but what you don't see is that in every game, even in Harding's big losses, Williamson got behind his defender the majority of the time. He's very difficulty to guard. Not as polished as Manningham, but he has a big upside.
[second post] D.J. has an awful lot of potential and yes, he does remind me of Manningham just a bit… D.J. has the tools to develop into a nice one, but at this stage in Manningham's career (5 years ago), not only did everybody in Ohio know who he was, but he already had the Ohio State's, Michigan's, & Florida's ready to offer him a scholarship. … I'm not going to judge D.J. by what Mario accomplished, but I think that he (D.J.) can become an elite player sooner than later.
Worm does tend to look at the positives more than the negatives for Harding recruits so take it for what it's worth. One of the reasons Williamson's stock isn't high is that as a senior Harding picked up more of a pocket-passing quarterback and his production did not increase from the 36 catches and 376 yards as a junior.
He also brings up the obvious comparison when we're talking about a six-foot-ish lighting bolt of a receiver making the journey from Harding to Michigan: Mario Manningham. The YRMFSPA above goes for Ted Ginn instead of Manningham because Manningham was a brilliant technician of a receiver while Ginn, who was usually ranked as a corner and started out there at OSU, was and remains considerably rawer. Even so, Manningham is largely responsible for Williamson's instant commitment. Take it from the man himself:
He remembers vividly looking up to Manningham as a youth. “Growing up I wanted to be like him,” Williamson said. “But now since I’m there, I want to be better than him.”
In junior high, Williamson served as waterboy for the Harding football teams that Manningham starred on. “When they used to call timeout I used to always run to Mario first so he could grab my water,” Williamson said. “He was the star of the team. When he went to Michigan, that’s when I started watching college football a lot, and that’s when I really started liking football.”
Williamson's relationship with Manningham made Michigan his dream school, and not in the bastardized way people throw it around these days when they get friendly with a hostess on their official visit:
"I feel real good right now," Williamson said. "It's one thing to get your first offer, but this is a dream come true for me. I always wanted to go to Michigan, and now I'll have my chance."
“It came down to just always being a Michigan fan,” he added. “That’s what I always wanted to do… follow my dreams… follow my heart.”
At Michigan, Williamson will apparently start out as a slot receiver. That's what he told WTKA on Signing Day, anyway. That's a little odd to me since Michigan is well stocked there and Williamson is a 6'1" guy with blazing speed light on "wiggle," but his coach apparently thinks it's a fine idea($):
"He's a slasher. We used him a lot on bubble screens but he runs a 10.8 100-meter dash so he's some that we can use vertically too. He has great hands, is a good route runner and because he's a former tailback, he has outstanding vision and a real explosion once he gets the ball in his hands.
I really feel like he'll be a great matchup at the slot receiver position in Michigan's offense.That's the offense we're going to use this fall and we think he'll exploit linebackers and safeties that can't keep up with his speed."
Manningham, who currently plays for the New York Giants, plans to take full advantage of his role as Williamson's mentor. He didn't waste any time in doing so.
"I called D.J. shortly after he committed," Manningham said. "It feels good to know that I can have a positive effect on kids from my hometown, so I feel a responsibility to support them when they are doing good things. I'm very happy for D.J. and his family, and I'm going to make sure that I can give him any advice that I think that he needs in regards to Michigan."
Different side of a guy a lot of people didn't like much off the field. And game knows game:
The reigning 100-meter champ in the state of Ohio, D.J. Williamson couldn’t help but be impressed with Denard Robinson’s debut as a Michigan sprinter last week.
“He’s probably the fastest person I ever saw run,” Williamson said. … “He would beat me. I can’t even say he wouldn’t."
Why Ted Ginn? Ginn came in with epic recruiting hype, especially compared to Williamson, so a reminder about the nature of You May Remember Me From Such Players As is in order: this is just what sort of player we might expect if Williamson works out and not an attempt to equate the two.
Disclaimers done with, Ginn was a six-foot-ish track star who won state titles in the 100 and was a great college player mostly because he could run ridiculously fast in a straight line. His best high school mark was a 10.5, a tenth better than Williamson i he also spent the last ten meters doing elaborate shadow puppets. Williamson's 40 is also a tenth slower than Ginn's, but he's got a couple inches to the good.
Guru Reliability: Low. Major spread in the numbers, wide receiver with ugly quarterback situation, early commit who appears to have gone to zero-count-em-zero camps even as an underclassman. General Excitement Level: Moderate? Has top-end savoriness but comes in with an impressive disconnect between his 40 time and his recruiting rankings that suggest Michigan either knows something others don't—or he couldn't be bothered to reciprocate interest because he wanted M so badly—or that Williamson is a serious project. Williamson will be an interesting referendum on Tony Dews. Projection: If he's a slot, which I think is a weird spot for him to be, a holy lock to redshirt. Also pretty much a holy lock to redshirt if he ends up outside since there are three other freshmen who have been on campus since January. So: holy lock to redshirt. After that will start working in as an occasional deep threat as a freshman before the logjam clears for his redshirt sophomore season. At that point anything could happen.
I think they definitely need to red shirt him. I agree with watching him return kicks, but I think we have enough depth at that position to have him redshirt and work on his receiving skills. If he is able to become a deep threat on the outside, he will destroy all expectations by Rivals, Scout, etc.
“What the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve and those who stay will be champions.” - Bo
Redshirt this kid, have him work on drills and agility for a year and see where he shakes out. No matter what, having a kid that fast on your team is a good thing. If all he ever does is take a few end-arounds to surprise the opponent, I'd be cool with that. He could make it to the corner faster than anyone else.
This is the first recruit that I was pretty "meh" about that this blog's in-depth examination has completely 180'd me on.
I love fast.
DJ Williamson is fast.
Thus, I love DJ Williamson.
Also like to see Manningham mentoring the kid. From a football standpoint at least, Manningham is probably a great wealth of information for a wide receiver. I still hope we see this kid on the outside at some point later in his career but I trust RRod will put him in the best position to succeed wherever that may be.
One big advantage of having a burner like him on the
practice squad (which is where he will spend 100% of his time this year) is that it will give GERG a chance to prep our safeties and corners for games.
So even if he is going to RS, I expect him to contribute well to the team.
Welcome DJ, we love having guys that love Michigan as much as you do.
Tom Harmon's last game: In a 40-0 victory over OSU, he scored scoring three rushing tds, two passing tds, 4 extra points, 3 interceptions and punted 3 times. He was given an standing ovation by the OSU crowd.
That is my favorite part of the article. It shows that WGH is grooming players for our system. Add in the already established recruiting pipeline and I see even more talent coming from this school in the future. Players who have been brought up in the exact system they will be playing at the college level too.
You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia - but only slightly less well-known is this: Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!
WGH's basketball coach and UM alum along with his brother (dave) is huge in recruiting there for UM. has 1st row seats behind the bench for every home game, usually reserved for himself and recruits, though he has been known to share them...*cough*
Mario Manningham, Carl Diggs and Prescott were all directly from him.
I don't recall DJ setting off a firestorm of OMG 2 STAR WHAT IS RICHROD DONIG????!!!!, so I guess I don't have to convince anyone that having an incredibly fast guy who has, it seems, good hands, would be a good asset to your football team.
I'm willing to chalk up his low-ish production in HS and lack of non-Lemming guru hype to some combination of HS quarterback issues, offensive scheme, and bad luck. So I guess I'm saying that I'm pretty excited about this kid.
Harding went from having one of the top coaches in the state (thom mcdaniels, father of josh) to this ragtag bunch that was 'personally selected' in a joke of an interview process by the AD and the principal. needless to say, coaching up didn't happen.
DJ is fast. 2x 100m D1 state champ. that said, he probably needs a redshirt year to bulk up and learn how to play football.
sidenote: worm02 is one of the biggest warren harding homers alive. every time i read his quotes here, i chuckle to myself. good guy, TOTALLY biased.
but I met DJ's aunt works at a bank that I use. I was talking to her and she saw my M gear that I had on and said, "My nephew is going there to play football." I asked if her nephew was Antonio (Kinnard...this was before the non-qualifier stuff) or DJ. She said that their entire family is Ohio State fans. I told her that red is a terrible color and that they should invest in new wardrobes immediately.
Other than the usual chitchat, one point of interest was that DJ would like to run track (ala Woolfolk, Stokes, and DRob) as well as play football.
Williamson was under the radar, didn't go on the camp circuit, has exceptional speed and potential, and there's a history of M recruiting at his HS, which this continues. I think this was a very nice job here by Rodriguez & staff.
I'm thinking he's at slot to start a la Steve Breaston earlier in his career. Obvious, yet unstoppable bubble screens are good for fast players b/c they can accelerate so quickly that they're at least 5 yards down field before anyone gets near them. Also, it's probably easier for a wide out to learn to catch a bubble screen than run actual routes.
This is the type of recruit that can make RR look really good. The recruiting websites think of him as nothing, so if he does nothing he'll fall in line, but if he gets coached up correctly with the speed he has, and then the confidence he'll gain watch out..RR could gain major props for this one!
thank god he doesn't have to use starting blocks in football
Does anyone spend time working on their start out of the blocks in high school? I think I saw one guy in that race that did not have an abysmal start. Maybe they were all nervous, who knows? With a decent start, he could have been in the 10.5's.
I'm looking forward to seeing this guy's on the field performance, but I'm already thrilled about the part where a kid from a solid Ohio prep school decided he was Maize and Blue all the way. Commitment to us, didn't play any games, try to attract any attention, use our offer as leverage to get one from tOSU, etc. He just wanted to come to Michigan. Manningham mentoring him is just the icing on the cake.