February 4, 2009

Rebs edge Hogs for talented Floridian

On Wednesday afternoon, Alex Williams finally exhaled.

His decision, one that he made two weeks ago, was finally public. His months-long bet with high school teammate and fellow Ole Miss signee Willie Ferrell was over and the personable Tallahassee (FAMU High), Fla., defensive end/outside linebacker had the pressure of recruiting off his shoulders.

"I'm so, so, so elated that it's over," said Williams, who signed with Ole Miss following a ceremony at his high school Wednesday afternoon.

Williams, a 6-foot-5, 203-pound, two-sport standout, chose Ole Miss over Arkansas.

"It all came down to location because I love both coaching staffs so much," Williams said. "Both of them were cool, but I've never seen or heard of a coach like Coach (Houston) Nutt. Every coach has their thing. Some coaches, excuse my language, are hard-asses. Some are tough guys. Some are kind of soft-spoken and don't say much. He's known for being a players' coach. When I went on my visit, I was looking for reasons to say, 'No, I don't like his style or the way he carries himself,' but I couldn't. I looked for things, but I couldn't find anything. It was just all love. It was like he had known me forever. He's a real cool guy.

"It was very difficult. I can honestly say the thing that made choosing Ole Miss OK, the thing that made it right for me to go there, was their extremely successful season. …Canceling everything else out, they had that great season last year. Now they can be just as good or better because they have that experience."

Williams visited Arkansas on Jan. 9 and then made the trip to Ole Miss on Jan. 23. He visited Florida A&M this past weekend, but he already knew by then that he was going to be a Rebel.

"I really knew after my visit," Williams said. "I just had to make sure it was OK with myself, basically."

Williams said he's hoping to weigh 225 pounds by the time he gets to Oxford in June. He's hoping to weigh 240 pounds by the time the Rebels open the 2009 season at Memphis. Williams said he'll start his Ole Miss career as an outside linebacker.

"I'm ready," said Williams, who had 19 quarterback sacks in each of the past two seasons. "That's another thing that set them apart. I think I'll be more successful with hands up than hands down. I like that because it exploits my athleticism and it feels more comfortable."

Williams will room with fellow Tallahassee native Corey Gaines in Oxford. He and Gaines were classmates through the 10th grade, when Gaines moved to Godby High School. Ferrell, who also signed with Ole Miss, will be in Oxford as well.

"To go up there with two friends as close as we all are, it's amazing," Williams said. "I'll always have that taste of home."

Of course, Williams and Ferrell will likely still be arguing about who won their competition to keep their college choice secret the longest, a race that hit its apex on Tuesday when both players sent out false text messages about the other to media members.

"Actually, I always win every competition between me and Bill," Williams said, laughing. "There are two kinds of people, I always tell Bill. There's a winner and there's a loser, and Bill always loses, man. He couldn't keep his big mouth closed."

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