TomVH: An Interview with Vontrell Williams

Submitted by TomVH on March 23rd, 2011 at 2:21 AM

Illinois has a few top defensive linemen in the 2012 class and Vontrell Williams is included on that list. The 6-foot-2, 263-pound defensive tackle currently holds offers from Bowling Green, CMU, Illinois, and Toledo among others, but has recently been hearing from some big time schools. Michigan is one of those programs showing interest in the Chicago native, and Vontrell took a trip over to Ann Arbor this weekend. Here's a look at his film and what he thought of the visit.

TOM: What was the first thing you saw on your visit?

VONTRELL: When we first got there we saw my dad's old teammate, Coach Hecklinski. After that we went to an academic meeting and saw the academic staff. I learned a lot academic wise and how they help us through college. They make it easier for you to transition.

TOM: Your dad was teammates with Coach Hecklinski?

VONTRELL: Yeah, they played at Western Illinois together. That kind of helps to have someone there that we already trust.

TOM: That's interesting. So what did you guys do after the academic meeting?

VONTRELL: After that we went to watch practice. You would never know that was their first practice. Everything was so crisp, I don't know, everything seemed to be on point like they've been practicing for years. That let me know that Michigan is back now and that Coach Hoke is going to do good things.

TOM: After practice I'm assuming you got to see the facilities and the Big House?

VONTRELL: Man, the weight room was unlike any other weight room. They had some things I've never seen before. It was very professional, it was pretty crazy. They had machines that get you warmed up in less than two minutes. And then the Big House, man, I've never been inside the Big House and there's nothing like being right in the middle of that M. Just looking around and picturing all those fans there it was great.

TOM: After the facilities then did you get a chance to sit down with the coaches?

VONTRELL: Yeah, I was able to meet Coach Montgomery, Coach Hoke, and also Coach Mattison. We met Coach Jackson too and also Coach Singletary. I was impressed by all of them, but I was most impressed with the resume of Coach Mattison. Being the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, it says a lot to come back to Michigan. To coach those guys at the Ravens and to come back really says a lot. It also says a lot about how long the coaching staff will be there. I believe that will be the last place Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison will coach at. I also believe that the coaching staff they have around them they'll bring home some national championships.

TOM: Wow, you have a lot of good things to say about Michigan and this trip, were you a fan of Michigan growing up? Is there a reason you know so much about them?

VONTRELL: I've been a Michigan fan all my life. Just visiting Michigan was a dream come true. Then to have the Michigan coaches like me was another plus. Michigan has always had my eye, I know the fight song and everything.

TOM: With you having such high interest in Michigan, I know they haven't offered yet but did they talk to you about what you need to do to get that offer?

VONTRELL: They talked to me about it, yeah. Coach Mattison was telling me that Michigan isn't like other schools that just throw out offers. They told me that I'm very very high on their list, that I shouldn't get discouraged that they haven't offered yet, and if I do everything I'm supposed to then I'll have an offer eventually.

TOM: What's it like to hear that from a Coach? What goes through your head when you hear him tell you he's interested in you?

VONTRELL: It's an honor that any college wants you, but it's a special honor with Coach Mattison. Achieving everything he's done, it's amazing. For him to actually tell me he wants me to play for his school it means a lot to me. Once upon a time I felt like maybe I wasn't a big time player, but with Coach Mattison telling me that, I know I'm a big time player now.

TOM: With all that being said, when do you want to make your final decision? How is your recruitment going to play out?

VONTRELL: I want to make my decision when I'm 100% sure. While Michigan is a great school I want to take my official visit there to be 100% sure on whichever school. I'll never know just by talking to the coaches on the phone, I need to be there. I need to be around the student body, around the players and the coaches to get to know them more. I just want to be 100%.

TOM: Even thought they haven't offered yet, after this visit where does Michigan stand?

VONTRELL: Michigan is definitely in the top three. I'm still kind of choosing the other schools in the top group, but Michigan is definitely in there.

TOM: Will you be making it back up to Michigan any time soon?

VONTRELL: Yeah, I'll be back up for the spring game. I'll definitely be there for that.



March 23rd, 2011 at 8:02 AM ^

About a minute in there's a play where the running back gets into open field.  Watching Williams track back with such speed I think really shows off this player's athleticism.  Seems like a solid prospect.  Looks like they play pretty good competition too.  His HS Roster has him listed at 240 lbs so not sure how accurate the video's weight reference is, but all around looks like a player with some potential.


Go get 'em, Hoke.


March 23rd, 2011 at 8:05 AM ^

... that just throw out offers."

Well, OK, maybe they don't just throw them out; more like the old "cereal that's shot from guns approach."


March 23rd, 2011 at 8:58 AM ^

I'm not as high on Williams as some others here obviously are.  He doesn't get off the ball extremely well, and I think that could be a problem.  We need defensive linemen, but if Williams were to be offered, he'd probably fall right at the bottom of my wish list.

Captain Obvious

March 23rd, 2011 at 11:39 AM ^

This is his schtick:

  • Trash ~80% of high school recruits.  It's a pretty safe bet that about this percentage will never become more than mediocre, role players or backups.  Speak from a position of total authority because hey, you watched 3 minutes of youtube highlights and that's pretty much all you need to see.
  • When a few of the 80% of the players you trashed become big time players be sure to loudly admit your mistake and how you are pleasantly surprised and happy to be wrong.  (wow, he's so objective and even the experts miss a few!)
  • Inexplicably pump up a few low-rated players here and there to show that you really evaluate these guys (e.g., Cox).  In the face of all evidence to the contrary (player never sees the field, practice reports that player cannot grasp playbook or has a bad attitude) maintain that you are smarter than the coaches.
  • When you finally get one right about an unlikely contributor that breaks out (e.g., Minor), be sure to bring it up any every available opportunity for the next several years.  Do not mention the reasons that the person was not initially a big contributor (better guys graduating, injuries, playing poorly in practice, fumbling, etc.).


March 23rd, 2011 at 2:53 PM ^

1. I don't trash recruits.  They're high school kids.  I do offer my opinion on which ones I think will be good or not, which is exactly what a 5-star ranking or a 2-star ranking does.  So I don't know why anyone would have a problem with it, unless you also think Scout and Rivals are "trashing" 2-star recruits.  If you think Scout and Rivals trash recruits, then I guess the criticism is fair.

2. When players I didn't think highly of turn into good players, do you think I should keep talking about how I don't think they're very good?  I'm not sure there's any other avenue by which to approach it.  I root for Michigan, not for being right.

3.  I don't "inexplicably" pump up a few lower rated recruits.  The explanation is that they play better than the starters.  And in the example you chose, Cox currently averages about 9.0 yards a carry.  When a dude averages 9.0 yards a carry, not much more explanation is needed.  Unless, of course, you like running backs who can't break tackles, aren't very fast, don't break big plays, and linger toward the bottom of the conference in yards per carry.

4. Thanks for pointing out that I was right about Minor.  Now I don't need to bring that up myself.  :o)

If I'm wrong about a guy, my blog has my thoughts recorded for anyone to take a look.  I don't hide from anything.  If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.  If I'm right, I'm right.  It can all be easily found by a quick Google search.


March 24th, 2011 at 10:18 AM ^

I love what you bring to this Blog Magnus,

But bringing up Mike Cox's YPC is kind of unfair due to the small sample size. 19 career carries (and not necessarily against the top competiton) does not prove him to be a great running back.

I don't necessarily disaggree with you about Cox's potential, but his limited time on the field can't be used to say that he should be starting.

Blue boy johnson

March 23rd, 2011 at 11:13 AM ^

Reading between the lines of last 2 interviews, there appears to be negative recruiting against current staff, in regards to coaches being employed at M for an extended stay. Strange to me that Hoke and Mattison have to reinforce the notion that they will be here for at least the next 4 years.

Captain Obvious

March 23rd, 2011 at 11:27 AM ^

I am SHOCKED to find out that recruits might question the longevity of the current staff!  I mean, where on Earth would they get the idea that Michigan is the type of school that would fire a coach so quickly?  Especially defensive coordinators - it's clear that defensive coordinators come to Michigan knowing that they are here for the long haul.

Blue in Seattle

March 24th, 2011 at 3:57 PM ^

the usual group of people fighting with Magnus.

For me the telling point is that Michigan has unleashed a higher than average amount of offers, and they are not handing an offer to Vontrell Williams.  Of course Mattison is going to say what he said, because Michigan is recruiting Vontrell, just not at the level that they place the offer out there.

So it really doesn't seem like Magnus has to be much of a genius to find some of the kids flaws from the video and say "he's not my first choice".  Because the fact is, Vontrell is not Michigan's first choice either.

That said, I do enjoy reading the TomVH interviews because I think they show what kind of job the coaches are doing selling and marketing the Michigan Brand.  I'm no judge of talent, and really don't care to spend my time drooling over 17 year old kids who have not accepted a scholarship yet.  But I am excited that every interview seems to end up with the same comments about how freaking awesome it is that the DC of the Ravens has decided he wants to coach at Michigan.  I mean yes Tom asks the same questions in the same order, but assuming he's truly quoting these kids correctly it just ends up being the same awesome impression they walk away with.  Let me see if I can quote them off the top of my head without looking;

1 - I was impressed how much they support and help you with academics, academic meeting first.

2 - mention position or recruiting coach, then Hoke and Mattison.  at least on but sometimes both comments on "Hoke is great, I trust him, he connects, etc." and/or "they have Greg-Freaking-Mattison coaching the defense!!!!"

3 - Big House is big, (obvious but always impressive, I have the same thoughts everytime I'm there, never gets old)

Maybe this is all rigged, or maybe 17 year old kids don't have that many options on what they say in an interview, but it seems like the black could that hung over recruiting before is gone.  Fair or not, I'm glad that has changed.