Williams sentenced for burglary conviction

7/6/2004 - Miami Hurricanes

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

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