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Sunday, February 8, 2004

The Willie Williams Recruiting Saga

Willie Williams - University of Miami recruit

Willie Williams

The NY Times story, "He's Toasted, Then He's Toast," describes a young high school football player's recruiting diaries that stired a tempest.

Mr. Williams a 6-foot-2 inch, 230-pound linebacker from Miami chronicals his recruiting trips to big-time college football schools to Manny Navvarro, a Miami Herald reporter. The problem is that Willie speaks his mind and now a lot of people are mad at him and he faces three criminal charges in Gainesville, Florida. Police said Williams hugged a female student without her permission, hit a man at a bar and set off three fire extinguishers in his hotel during his recruiting trip — all in a span of five hours. It also turns out Willie is a convicted felon (burglary) currently on probation. He has a record of 10 prior arrests dating back to when he was 14 mostly for burglary and theft related crimes.

Miami Herald, 13-Jan-04, Part 1: On trip, Florida State Univ. has Williams' number:
''Dinner was tight,'' Williams said. ``We had our own section in the restaurant, but the only thing that bugged me was that I sat all the way in the back -- so I was the last one to get my food.

``Coach Haggins told us to order as much as we wanted. I ordered a steak and a lobster tail. The lobster tail was like $49.99. I couldn't believe something so little could cost so much. The steak didn't even have a price. The menu said something about market value. I was kind of embarrassed so I didn't order a lot.

'But then I saw what the other guys were ordering, I was like, `Forget this.' I called the waiter back and told him to bring me four lobster tails, two steaks and a Shrimp Scampi. It was good. I took two boxes back with me to the hotel.''


''Coach Bowden was cool, but Ms. Bowden was the bomb,'' Williams said. ``I swear, she must be related to Betty Crocker or something..."
Miami Herald, 21-Jan-04, Part 2: Auburn fails to get Williams:
'I really wanted to go to Red Lobster for some more lobster and steak, but they told me the wait was two hours. So I got me some babyback ribs, buffalo wings and shrimp,'' Williams said. ``Even though I ordered first, somehow, I was still the last one to get my food. It took them like two hours.''

During the wait, several of the female hosts, nicknamed the ''Tigerettes'', offered him some of their spinach dip.

''You know how it is, those girls are supposed to be there to cheer you up,'' Williams said. ``But I told them, `I ain't no animal, and I ain't going to eat no plant.'

``But they kept pushing it toward me. It was disgusting. I told them, `I'm from Miami. I don't eat that. You farm people are used to it, but not me.''[...]

''The girls at the party were much better than the farmer girls we'd see all day around campus'' ..." was kind of worried all Auburn had to offer was those farmer girls that talked funny. But the girls at the party weren't farmer girls at all."
Miami Herald, 27-Jan-04, Part 3: University Miami trip is paradise for Williams:
''Coach [Coker] looks like an old guy in his 50s or 60s, but he's real cool,'' Williams said. ``When he talks, he sounds like he's 18 or 20."

"And when I saw he [Coach Coker] was driving the Escalade, I was like, `Dang, coach got some taste.' ''
Miami Herald, 2-Feb-04, Part 4 (where trouble started): Williams visits Gators; doesn't take the bait:
After dinner, Williams and other recruits were taken to an on-campus beauty pageant.

''They had girls come out, all dressed nice, but it took awhile,'' Williams said. ``It was a weird beauty pageant because there were some people talking about black history the whole time. Then it got worse. They had guy models come out.''

Williams was then dropped off at The Hilton. His hotel room wasn't as nice as the the Paradise Suite in Coconut Grove, but it did come with a special touch.

''There was Gatorade all over the place,'' ..."I was like `I get it. Gatorade was made at Florida.' ''...."I pretty much made up my mind. I can't live in a place that don't have any restaurants"
Miami Herald, 4-Feb-04, Williams picks Miami

Audio | Williams' call UM coach Larry Coker

Miami recruit Willie Williams facing legal troubles [USA Today, Feb. 6, 2004]

Update 10-Feb: Willie Williams surrendered on Tuesday (10-Feb-04) at around 11:15am to the Broward County Jail (just north of Miami) for violating his parole. Williams will be held without bail until a Friday court hearing.

On Tuesday morning, Gainesville State Attorney Bill Cervone filed charges of obstructing extinguishment and criminal mischief, stemming from Williams' football recruiting trip to the University of Florida Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.

The criminal mischief charge is a misdemeanor and the obstructing extinguishment charge is a felony.

On Monday, Williams was charged with misdemeanor battery by Cervone for allegedly hugging a woman against her will.

On Tuesday, UM athletic director Paul Dee issued the following statement: ``With the events of yesterday, including both the issuance of the arrest warrant for Willie Williams by the Broward County circuit judge and the filing of charges in Gainesville by the State's attorney regarding the incidents of last weekend, the University of Miami has determined that it will delay the processing of the application for admission of Willie Williams.''

The University of Miami was unaware of Williams' arrest record dating back to age 14.

Williams turns himself in as new charges are filed [Miami Herald, Feb. 10, 2004, with picture of Williams walking to jail with attorneys]
Miami holds off on recruit [USA Today, Feb. 10, 2004]
Miami Herald columist calls for Canes to end Williams scholarship offer

Update Feb 11, 2004: The story so far - probation issues - UM reaction-Miami Herald

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