Back in February, Mykel Williams was planning to commit in March, to honor his father, on his birthday.
As the commitment date got closer, there was more and more talk about recruits being able to take visits again in the coming months. Due to COVID-19, the NCAA shutdown visits in the middle of March 2020, so Williams liked the sound of that.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive lineman out of Columbus (Ga.) Hardaway had established a strong relationship with multiple coaches on the Georgia staff, and with Georgia being an in-state school, he was familiar with the program.
Due to the pandemic, and the no. 5-ranked prospect in the country not being able to take visits, Georgia was the only school on his mind.
He was all but committed to Kirby Smart early in March before hitting the pause button to wait and take visits. June 1 hit, recruits could take in-person visits to schools across the country, and just days after his official visit to USC, Williams committed to the Trojans.
Georgia never slowed their recruitment down.
The staff in Athens actually did the opposite. They turned it up a notch, and after the Trojans fired Clay Helton, Georgia ramped it up a little more. A little over eight months after he was all but committed to the Bulldogs, Williams has come full circle, he is now publicly committed to Georgia.
“I have always had Georgia in my heart for Georgia,” Williams said. “That is why I was about to commit earlier this year. Georgia has had my attention from the beginning, and nothing ever changed, but my love for Georgia now is stronger than ever.
“Even when I was committed to USC, Georgia never fully left my mind. I loved USC, and I liked them a lot, but Georgia was always there. They never went away.
“Now I am committed and it is a good feeling.”
Williams’ commitment to Georgia is different from the one to USC
Williams surprised some when he committed to USC. One thing some may or may not know is, he has a half-brother there in tight end Michael Trigg.
The two did not live together, but were still very close, and having that type of connection was something no other school could offer. Williams looked at Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, and others, but USC landed his commitment in June.
He was never completely locked in with the Trojans though.
His commitment to Georgia seems to be much stronger.
“I feel differently about this commitment,” Williams said. “Georgia is where I should be. There is nothing another school can show me or tell me that can change my mind.
“Georgia has everything I want and I am locked in.”
If Williams would have made this commitment in the middle of March, like he was so close to doing, he might not have felt the same way he does now about his decision.
“My commitment now is so much stronger than it would have been then back. If I would have committed to Georgia in March, I would have been solid, but I would have taken visits, talked to other schools, and it would have been different.
“My love for Georgia is stronger now. I am locked in with Georgia.”
Georgia’s pursuit made an impression on Williams
Williams emerged as a top player in the Peach State his sophomore season. He became a national name quickly, and he emerged as a priority for Georgia early.
Being an in-state recruit, Williams visited Athens early in his high school career, so he had time to develop relationships with the coaching staff at Georgia.
Georgia was viewed as the favorite early, and they stayed consistent. That helped them with this commitment in the end.
“Georgia was always recruiting me hard, but as soon as I committed to USC, they definitely picked it up,” Williams said. “Georgia never gave up on me, they showed me consistency, and they always showed me I was a priority for them.
“They made sure I knew I was important from early on. Georgia has been recruiting me since I was a freshman and sophomore, and I have felt love from them from the beginning.
“How they recruited me and made me feel definitely played a role in this decision.”
Georgia’s performance in 2021 was the icing on the cake for Williams
When he committed to USC, one thing that really stood out to him was their defense. The Trojans are based out of the four-man front, and that really appealed to Williams.
Georgia, under Smart and (Dan) Lanning (defensive coordinator), is known to run more of an odd-man front. Williams wondered how and where he would fit in with his skill-set.
Those questions have been answered.
“I can go in and move around in the Georgia defense,” Williams said. “I can be used like Travon Walker, like Adam Anderson, and like Jordan Davis.
“They like me at JACK linebacker first, but they also see me with my hand down from the three-technique out to the nine-technique. They want to move me around and put me in a position to succeed.”
Throught seven games, the Georgia defense is giving up 6.6 points per game. Williams likes what he sees.
“Georgia is dominant. They have shown me what they have been working to build under coach Smart. I see what they are doing as a team, I can fit in, and Georgia is a dominant team.”
Everything lined up for Williams to be a Bulldog
The decision is made. Williams plans to only visit Georgia for home games moving forward, and he couldn’t feel better about his commitment.
“I was thinking about Georgia and USC early in the season, and I honestly was praying on my decision looking for a sign to show me what I should do,” Williams said.
“That was right before coach Helton was fired, and I really took that as a sign. That showed me something, and I was really feeling Georgia was right.
“I took my time, I thought about it some more, and I had really been thinking really seriously about things since then. I knew I had love for Georgia, there were signs there for me, and it just felt right.
“Georgia was it for me.”
Williams knew about his decision before he arrived in Athens last weekend. The coaching staff found out throughout the day Sunday before Williams headed home.
“I told coach Lanning about my commitment first. Then we went and told coach (Tray) Scott (defensive line). Later that day, we went and told coach Smart.
“Everyone was screaming, jumping around, hugging me, and so happy to have me. It felt like a big family.”
The deep connection is part of the reason Williams is happy to be a Bulldog.
“The whole staff at Georgia is important to me. I have a great relationship with almost all the coaches, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“They have been recruiting me the longest, I know them the best, and they are all close to me.
“The coaches, Georgia being close to home, the team, and the way I can thrive at Georgia were all keys in my decision.”