The annual Prep Kickoff Classic was a more forward-looking scouting event than usual this season, with no 2019 Michigan targets featured in the showcase. There was still reason to film, though, thanks to Martin Luther King High School and 2020 four-star Rashawn Williams. King, currently ranked #1313 per Maxpreps, rolled past #182 East St. Louis, 52-38. Williams was a big part of the victory, utilizing his well-rounded skillset to make an impact in the run and pass game from the edge.
He recently reiterated that Michigan is and has been one of his top schools after visiting for the Penn State game despite a crystal ball that favors Ohio State, though their % lead is lessening; Allen Trieu and Brice Marich submitted Michigan crystal balls two days ago. What would Michigan be getting if they can secure Williams’ commitment? There are eight minutes and 38 seconds of film after the jump that can help us answer that.
[After THE JUMP: every-snap film and scouting]
[#13, split far wide every snap except the first]
247 has Williams listed at 6’1” and 185 pounds with a verified 4.54 shuttle and 32.4” vertical leap. That shuttle number is a little surprising considering how quick he looks when running routes. At 1:34 he uses a stutter step to freeze the defensive back, then makes his cut inside when he’s on the DB’s feet. At 2:46 Williams fakes inside to get the corner to step down and sells it so hard he leaves the defender yards behind as he snaps the route back toward the back corner of the end zone. Williams shows that he has high route-running IQ at 4:31, creating extra space for himself on a curl with a hard jab step inside that gets a CB with inside leverage who’s flying down to shut off the area outside the numbers to get so tangled up he slips and falls. You can get a good look at his straight-line speed at 4:11; Williams appears quite fast to me, and he gets to full speed in a hurry. That same play is yet another example of crisp route-running giving Williams extra space to operate, though that space is erased as Williams ultimately has to adjust (and does a nice job doing so) to a pass that’s high and outside. (I don’t think this is a circle route based on what I assume is a mirrored curl on the opposite side of the field.) The very next snap (4:20) serves as a referendum on Williams’ speed, with the corner electing to take the pass interference flag and bear hug and shove Williams instead of letting him run past on the fade.
Williams’ stop-start ability is impressive, but what really stood out to me was his run blocking. This is not an accident. The play at 3:13 is a good example of how engaged he is in the run game, using his speed to create a buffer, then stalking the defender, breaking down, and throwing a block 15 yards downfield that drives the defender back (I think it’s fair to assume he’ll learn to keep his hands in front). There’s an interesting play at 6:02, where Williams has a nice wall-off in the end zone to let his teammate get in. The defender wasn’t even trying, but Williams waited until the ball was caught to start his block and then actually blocked, notwithstanding the opposition’s lack of interest. A few seconds later (6:28) Williams throws one of the most vicious WR blocks I’ve seen from a high school athlete, pancaking the corner. Williams saves his best, at least in terms of technique, for last. Seeing his QB take off running around 7:43, he seems to hear the cornerback or possibly catches him in his peripheral vision. Williams gets his hands on the CB, turns him, and drives him almost 20 yards down the field.
Williams doesn’t have the height or leaping ability to be a jump ball specialist, but I think he has the skills to do most everything else required by an outside receiver, and one plus skill that some guys never gain. There weren’t enough throws Williams’ way to judge his hands in this contest, but his route running stood out. Williams used jab steps and head fakes to create separation, and his speed in and out of breaks is an asset that will translate well to college. His downfield speed threatened enough that at one point a corner chose to take the DPI flag instead of allowing Williams to burn him on a fade.
What I think will lead to early playing time in college is Williams’ blocking. He is the most block-conscious receiver I have scouted, and he displayed high football IQ in the timing of his blocks, using routes to back off a corner before throwing his block or waiting a split second to make sure a ball was caught before engaging. Williams will need to improve his hand placement to avoid getting called for holding, but there is evidence in his film that proper technique will make him an even more impactful blocker. Williams has earned a scouting cliché usually reserved for offensive linemen who play in zone blocking schemes: he finds work.