- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Michigan and Rutgers will be battling in the once-again redesigned Big Ten in the near future, but first the two programs could be going head to head for a 2014 recruit.
KJ Williams (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) has 10 offers but pegged Michigan and Rutgers as two programs standing out to him most.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver grew up liking the Wolverines, and Michigan was one of the first schools to offer Williams. He has built a solid relationship with the coaches already.
“They’re really interested,” he said. “Hopefully if I get up there I’ll have the chance to play as a freshman.”
West Virginia hosted Williams for a visit Sunday, but he hopes to make it to Ann Arbor by the end of April. He caught a glimpse of Michigan in November when he visited Ohio State for the annual rivalry game.
“You go there and you hear the crowd. It’s amazing,” Williams said. “I went to the Ohio State-Michigan game at Ohio State and Michigan was still loud.
“Michigan is a great school.”
Williams is no stranger to Rutgers’ campus, having visited the Scarlet Knights three times. Bethlehem is not far from Piscataway, N.J., so Williams is able to make frequent trips to visit the Big Ten’s newest member. He camped during the summer and checked out two Rutgers games this fall.
“They let you know what’s real, are straight forward with you and let you know what you’re capable of doing when you go there,” Williams said.
Arizona, Missouri, UCLA and Wisconsin are also making an early impression on Williams. None of those schools are within reasonable driving distance for Williams, but he said that is not a problem. Someone asks him every day if he is willing to go far, and he responds that if it is the right fit, he is willing to go anywhere.
Syracuse has not offered, but Williams hears about the Orange every day, multiple times a day. His cousin is Watch List quarterback A.J. Long, who committed to Syracuse a week ago.
“A.J. tells me every minute of every day, ‘Syracuse, Syracuse, Syracuse,’ ” Williams said.
Long moved to Tennessee before the start of their junior season, but the two reunited for a 7-on-7 tournament this past weekend. The two share a great bond, which could work in Syracuse’s favor if the program offers.
“We’ve been playing football since we were little together,” Williams said. “He doesn’t have to know what route I’m running -- he’ll know where I’m at.”
4dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney