On a normal day, Michael Williams’ cellphone buzzes with messages from at least four recruiters. One might be Ohio State, another SMU.
When he goes home, after a day of classes and workouts at Fort Worth All Saints, he’ll usually find his mailbox stuffed with about 30 letters, packets and personalized posters. He pins the handwritten notes to his wall and stuffs the rest in an assortment of shopping bags.
It’s only March and nearly a year until National Signing Day, but Williams — a senior-to-be defensive tackle — holds 36 scholarship offers. Among them: TCU, Alabama, Michigan, Stanford, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas.
His first two, UCLA and Kansas State, came last May, while he was still a sophomore.
Compared to the more than a million other high school players in the country, Williams is a rarity. But in the recruiting world, it’s not shocking to find a prospect with the amount of offers and attention Williams has received before his senior year. It’s easy to find a handful in the recruiting epicenter of Dallas-Fort Worth.
At Arlington Lamar, quarterback Shane Buechele, offensive lineman Chris Owens, cornerback Madre Harper and receiver Kofi Boateng have combined for 68 offers. Euless Trinity defensive lineman Chris Daniels’ total is in the 20s. Trophy Club Nelson offensive lineman Kellen Diesch has 17 offers, while his teammate, defensive end Brandon Bowen, has 14, according to 247Sports.com.
Plano East linebacker Anthony Hines, a member of the 2017 class, has more than 50 offers, the first of those coming when he was an eighth-grader at Dallas Episcopal School.
“You’ve got to keep your priorities straight, because whatever school offers you or has interest in you,” Williams said, “they want to talk to you every day.”
Normally, an offer happens one of two ways: Either a college recruiter will offer a prospect directly, over the phone or in person, or the recruiter will funnel the offer through the prospect’s high school coach.
Southlake Carroll running back Lil’Jordan Humphrey had never heard from Texas until his coach told him the Longhorns offered. When North Texas offered All Saints receiver Isaiah Harris, it came via a text message from a UNT assistant to his coach, Aaron Beck.
For most players, one offer — whether it’s their first or most notable — can set off a string of others.
“They always say the hardest one is the first one and getting the school to stick their neck out and start offering,” said Arlington Lamar offensive coordinator Daniel Wilkinson, who also facilitates recruiting for the Vikings. “I think there is something when certain schools have offered, maybe that’s enough information for another school to jump in.”
Buechele, who has committed to Texas, was recruited early, while Owens, Harper and Boateng picked up interest after last season. In December, Northwestern offered Owens and Boateng two weeks before Boston College offered all three.
Then, once schools turned their attention toward 2016, the frenzy began.
Owens picked up 14 offers in February, including TCU, Alabama, Michigan and Auburn. Texas and Texas A&M offered the first week of March, and he’s now at 27 total.
Interest in Harper and Boateng ballooned to a combined 30 offers. Harper committed to Oklahoma State last week.
Owens receives around 40 contacts from coaches per week. One or two will follow him on Twitter every day. When that happens, Owens will send the coach a direct message with a link to his film. Beyond that, he’s learned to be selective in returning interest.
“I was doing that earlier in my recruiting process where I was trying to call everybody,” Owens said. “Then my mom said I’m getting closer and closer, and we can’t entertain everybody because otherwise it’ll become a whole disaster.”
Owens wants to take the summer to evaluate and then, he hopes, commit somewhere by the start of the season.
Before his junior year, he figured he’d have a few options, likely at schools outside the Power 5 conferences. Now he has nearly 600 pieces of mail stuffed into shoe boxes to make room for more.
“I kind of thought most of [the offers] would be smaller schools, and I thought I might be at one of those,” he said. “I never expected anything like this.”
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760