Williams sentenced for burglary conviction

Updated: July 6, 2004, 4:39 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Top Miami football recruit Willie Williams was placed on probation for the second time in two weeks Tuesday under conditions that his lawyers believe will help him get admitted to the school.

He could have faced up to a year in jail, but the prosecution didn't request jail time.

"I just feel so great right now," the 19-year-old player said. I feel magnificent. Words can't express what this means to me."

Williams must perform 250 hours of community service while on probation for three years for violating probation for a store burglary and is banned from drinking alcohol and taking any unprescribed drugs. He'll be subject to random testing.

Williams' lawyers said it was important to the school that the player will not have a felony conviction, and the judge agreed.

Defense attorney Paul Lazarus said he's "extremely optimistic" Miami will accept Williams. Another lawyer for Williams, Bradford Cohen, said he expects the university to hold a hearing within two weeks.

Miami athletic director Paul Dee said now that Williams' sentence is known, the school will determine whether to admit him.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker starred at Carol City High School in Miami. He was named an All-American by Parade magazine and the No. 2-ranked high school player in the country by SuperPrep magazine after last season.

Williams told the judge he understood the risks of going to state prison if he violates probation again. As part of his probation, Williams must undergo a psychological evaluation and get any recommended treatment.

"I don't believe you're a lost cause," Judge Michael Kaplan said. "I think you've got some promise and I don't think the thing to do is put you in jail."

Cohen denied Williams received preferential treatment, saying he believes the judge would have imposed the same sentence on any college-bound teenager.

Williams admitted violating probation imposed for a Pembroke Pines stereo shop burglary in 2002 by getting arrested during a recruiting visit to the University of Florida in January.

He was placed on probation for a year last week in Gainesville after pleading no contest to a felony count of setting off hotel fire extinguishers and misdemeanor battery for hugging a woman without her permission.

Williams has paid $1,700 to the hotel to cover damages and his bill. A misdemeanor charge involving a bar fight on the same weekend was dropped with Williams agreeing to pay the man involved $1,300.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press