Hello: AJ Williams

Submitted by Tim on April 22nd, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Continuing the new Michigan tradition of landing commitments at the same position back-to-back, the Wolverines gained a commitment from OH TE/OL AJ Williams this afternoon.


Come at me bro: Scouting Ohio


Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
3*, #15 TE NR TE NR TE NR TE

The premium sites are mostly in agreement on his size: three votes for 6-6, and ESPN is the lone dissenter at 6-5. They're also pretty close on his weight, with two votes for 255, and two votes giving 5 extra pounds at 260. That difference is too small to be relevant.

Now that we know how big this kid is, we start coming to the questions of position. If a high school junior weighs 260 pounds, there's a darn good chance he'll be near 300 by his redshirt sophomore year. It seems almost inevitable that he ends up on the offensive line, especially since that's what he'll do most of his senior year. Ohio recruiting guru Duane Long like his potential there:

A.J. Williams, Cincinnati Sycamore. Could be top five in the state after a year of playing tackle rather than tight end, something he will do this year.

Of course now that he's a Michigan commit, Long will downgrade him to "worst player ever to come out of Ohio." More from Duane:

I have to mention Cincinnati Sycamore's A.J. Williams. I know Mark Porter is grinning seeing his name come up as we don't quite know what to do with him. He plays tight end at 6-6 255 but blocks like a tackle. The thing is he is so athletic you have to want a guy like this at tight end. You have a third tackle on the field at all times without giving up a weapon in the passing game. We have no idea whether he can catch the ball though. On a 4 minute highlight reel he only catches one ball.

That's a nice segue to the the negative: he hasn't caught a lot of passes in his high school career. That's not such a big deal if he fills out and end up on the offensive line, right? Magnus said on Maize n Brew that he could be a strictly-blocking tight end as well:

While Thompson is more of a pass-catching threat, there are also offers to guys like Williams and Mark Harrell, which suggests to me that Brady Hoke wants a blocking tight end, too.

Somebody who's mostly a blocker, with the occasional threat of catching a pass (remember, Long raves about his athleticism), could be a great addition in Borges's offense. He's also a high-scoring player on the hoops court, speaking to either his size or athleticis, but more likely both.


AJ had a pretty good offer sheet, with representation from the SEC (Arkansas, Vanderbilt), ACC (Boston College, NC State), Big East (Louisville, West Virginia), and Big Ten (Illinois, Indiana), to go along with some lower-caliber squads.


Ohio State would have liked for him to be available late in the year in case they wanted to toss a last-minute offer his way, but the Michigan commitment obviously closes that door.


Given that he has an entire highlight reel that includes only one catch, it's fair to say that AJ doesn't rack up a whole lot of individual production. Therefore he falls more into the "offensive lineman, there does not have stats" category.


Rivals is the only site listing a 40-yard dash time, crediting him at 4.9 seconds. Considering he's a tweener between tight end and tackle, that's downright realistic (if not a little on the pessimistic side). I'm left with no choice but to dole out a mere one FAKE out of five.


ScoutingOhio has only a preview for his highlight video:


As I started writing this post, I was dead set on the idea that this guy is a high school tight end who becomes an offensive lineman in college. I'm still leaning that way, but now I'm not quite as sure. He's a de facto third tackle in high school, so it wouldn't be that much of a change for him (especially if, as noted above, he simply plays on the line this year). However, he also has pretty good athleticism, and while that trait isn't "wasted" by putting him on the line, it's definitely one less weapon you have.

At the end of the day, I'm going to predict he ends up as a 6-6 (or even taller, as he's only a high school junior right now) 315 offensive lineman, capable of playing pretty much any position along the line until the coaches give him a bit of specialization. Like every offensive lineman, he will spend a year redshirting to bulk up and start learning the system.

Down the road, he'll show some flashes of brilliance in backup duty, and his career will follow a similar arc to what Patrick Omameh's has done so far [Ed-M: earning late-season playing time over established veterans as a RS freshman then blowing up All-American linebackers by Game 2 of his sophomore year? Um, yes please!]. All-Big Ten and even All-American honors are not out of the question way down the road.


Since Williams is a tweener, it's tough to know exactly how the coaches view him, and therefore what impact he'll have on the class. If he's strictly a tight end, it may squeeze Michigan lean Ron Thompson out of the picture. If he's an offensive lineman, it gets Michigan one player closer to the projected goal of 5-6 players at that position.

Either way, he has little effect on overall numbers, and is another useful piece to a solid (but not great) beginning to the 2012 class. The biggest needs remain quarterback and defensive line.



April 22nd, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

This kid carries 255 pretty well. His upside is through the roof with the different positions he could end up playing. Based on that alone I am excited to see his college career play out. 

Blue boy johnson

April 22nd, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

As said in other threads, Williams seems like a OT waiting to happen. Much like Jon Jansen, who showed up at M as a TE before moving to OT, my hunch is, he ends up on the offensive line. Either way, plenty of time to figure it all out.

Welcome aboard AJ

Zone Left

April 22nd, 2011 at 3:30 PM ^

Is he the kind of guy Michigan puts out there to try and do something similar to what Stanford has done the past couple of seasons--unbalance the line and plow forward with Michigan's answer to Toby Gerhart?


April 22nd, 2011 at 3:30 PM ^

We'll have to see what happens with him. The coaches apparently told him today they definitely want him as a TE so I guess we treat him as such for now. Wouldn't be the worst case scenario if he essentially operated as a 3rd tackle on rushing downs.


April 22nd, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

I believe the quote was that they intended for him to play TE, but if he outgrew the position or if the coaches wanted to move him to OL, he would move to make room for more athletic guys.  He just wants to be a good team player.

Oh, hell, I might as well just go find the quote...

"My plan is, if I stay athletic enough to be a tight end, I might as well stay at tight end and help out there," Williams said. "If I am big enough to play offensive line, I might as well help them out there and we can move in some athletic guys at tight end who happen to be better athletes than me. I'm going to do whatever helps my team get to National Championships and Rose Bowls.



April 22nd, 2011 at 8:43 PM ^

Pizza has a long and storied tradition as a component of Michigan athletic training.  (looking in your direction, late Carr era ha)  It also figures heavily into music dept./North Campus life.  Pizza is always available in the Burlodge, and I wound up eating it two meals a day at times.  And it was awesome.


April 22nd, 2011 at 3:42 PM ^

[Ed-M: earning late-season playing time over established veterans as a RS freshman then blowing up All-American linebackers by Game 2 of his sophomore year? Um, yes please!] 

Who was the "established veteran" Patrick Omameh earned late-season playing time over in 2009 - John Ferrara? Mark Huyge? Were they really "established"?

Be careful with your editoralizations, Misopogon.


April 22nd, 2011 at 4:01 PM ^

By Purdue 2009 both Huyge and Ferrara had both started 5 games each. Quasi-established? Omameh got his first PT when Dorrestein got hurt, but when Dorrestein came back Huyge was on the bench. With Moosman struggling at center and Ortmann being Ortmann you could easily claim Omameh was our 2nd best offensive lineman by the end of 2009, behind Schilling (whom he outperformed during those games).

The point is the Omameh track is a high bar to clear. I stand by that.


April 22nd, 2011 at 5:07 PM ^

The "Omameh track" was easily cleared by Taylor Lewan in 2010. Considering how thin the offensive line depth is at the moment, I don't think it will be that hard for someone in this class to be starting by mid-season of 2013. Matter of fact, it might be mandated with one injury to a starter.


April 22nd, 2011 at 5:17 PM ^

Well Lewan is Jake Long 2.0. He cleared that track because he is awesome. If we're breaking it down to arbitary adjectives I'd stick Omameh at "Good." And given the line depth I'd consider us really really lucky to have an Omameh '09 going into 2013.


April 22nd, 2011 at 4:05 PM ^

His school's conference (Greater Miami Conference) has a website and it lists stats for the teams.  According to that website he had 1 reception for 13 yards.  Bear in mind that his team only threw the ball 77 times and completed a mere 35.1% of those, so, yeah.  Never inserted a link on here before, so if it's broken feel free to fix.  Thanks.


Over the past two hoops seasons he has averaged just over 11 PPG, a further indication that he's a very athletic big man.  I believe that conference is fairly tough, with Colerain (Joe Bolden), Princeton, and Lakotas East and West.  Welcome aboard, AJ!!

EDIT: Added team stats after original post.



April 22nd, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

Moar pictures please - this kid's huge and looks like a badass. Were they in the other thread?
<br>Tim I still have no idea how you come to your conclusions, but let's hope this one is true. What a great day for M football


April 22nd, 2011 at 7:41 PM ^

If he gets to around 6-8 310 (Assuming he grows a couple of inches), he would be perfect for OT, and he has the athleticism to be a great one too.