NEW ORLEANS — Edward Williams felt overwhelmed Tuesday night, the eve of National Signing Day.
He was unsure of which of his favorite college choices — Oregon State, Texas Tech and Tulane — he wanted to sign a letter of intent with the following morning.
Then Williams, a 6-foot-3 linebacker at Warren Easton, received a call that night from the University of Miami, which offered him a last-minute scholarship, further complicating an already perplexing recruiting process.
“I want to stay at home sometimes, too,” Williams said. “But I want to go out there and see what’s out there, too. Basically, the family hasn’t come to an agreement yet.”
No wonder Williams sat quietly Wednesday morning at a decorated table in the school’s auditorium, his eyes flushed and moist.
As his teammates flashed smiles, content with their college selections, he lowered his head, covering it with his hands.
While teammates donned the baseball caps of their college choices, a signing day tradition, he stared at the bare space, except for the paperwork he would not sign. He stared into an audience of several hundred classmates and teachers, looking at nobody in particular as he tried to figure out an answer he didn’t have the answer to — or he wasn’t ready to answer publicly, knowing his answer conflicted with his family’s strong recommendation.
Stay at home to play college football at Tulane, near your family? Or sign with the best program that you trust and that wants you, even if it means changing area codes?
“Too hard right now,” Williams said of his pending decision.
The longer he waits, the more he could risk a school pulling an offer or running out of offers. It’s common for colleges to offer one scholarship to two or more recruits, opting for the player who signs first
Still, Williams doesn’t want to rush. He wants to make the right decision, whatever it is.
Warren Easton coach Tony Hull watched from nearby as Williams, a player he described as a “controlled animal,” looked unsure of himself.
“He’s having a tough time,” Hull said. “The toughest thing for me as a coach is to stay neutral and give him and his family as much information as possible to make the right decision.”
Before Miami called, Williams said was trying to decide between Texas Tech and Oregon State.
“Now I don’t know what to believe,” he said. “I don’t know what to go for.”
He said he knows what he wants in a school. He wants a program that has produced great athletes, such as former Miami standouts Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, who won Super Bowl XLVII with the Ravens on Sunday in New Orleans.
“That’s a big thing for me,” he said. “The ultimate goal is going to the league for me, it may not work out, but that’s my ultimate goal. I’m trying to be put in the best position to make it.”
Williams also wants a program where he can feel comfortable, where the coaches, hopefully young and energetic, can relate to him. A school that offers academic resources that can help him in the classroom. And a community in which he feels comfortable. Not as busy as New Orleans; somewhere he can focus on his studies, Williams said.
Tulane is not a main option, he said. Williams said his parents want him to stay at home.
He’s the oldest of two children.
Williams has had four official visits. Per NCAA rules, he can still visit one more school, if he chooses. He said he may not have to visit Miami to make his decision.