– By the AJC’s Doug Roberson
Will Adams and JaQuay Williams each reached into a black nylon bag and pulled out blue Auburn baseball caps. They put pen to paper. Their signing day, which began with an American Idol-like intro to more than 100 people gathered in the media center of Sandy Creek High School, was over.
While the formality took a few seconds, the decisions took much longer.
Adams, 6-foot-7, 290 pounds, is considered one of the nation’s better offensive linemen. Williams, 6-3, 205, is considered one of the better wide receivers.
As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, Williams was still trying to decide between Auburn’s “War Eagle,” or Georgia’s “Go Dawgs.” Adams made up his mind Saturday, spurning a late offer from Georgia and breaking a long commitment to Georgia Tech, a decision that surprised his coach, Chip Walker.
“It has become a very difficult thing with the way recruiting is,” Walker said. “College coaches want you to commit and do things early and then wait the whole time before you can sign.”
The stress wasn’t evident Wednesday morning. The pageantry started with this announcement from athletic director Ken Wood, channeling his best Ryan Seacrest:
“This is the United States of America. This is Georgia. This is Signing Day. …
“And this, ladies and gentlemen, is Sandy Creek High School.”
Parents and students applauded, with cellphones by the dozen popping out to preserve the announcements as several Patriots players, dressed in their Sunday best, announced where they were going. Going last were Adams and Williams, whose names and future destinations were speculated for more than a week as news of last-minute visits to campuses or from coaches surfaced. American Idol’s producers would have proud. But it wasn’t all smiles and photos in the week leading to Wednesday.
Adams began to waver on Tech as soon as Auburn asked him to take an official visit last week. Tech was the only school he had visited. He had grown close to assistant coach Todd Spencer.
“He was one of my favorite coaches up there,” he said.
A few weeks ago during his official visit, he was told that Spencer had been placed on administrative leave for texting. When it was later reported than Spencer was no longer with the team, Adams said he was disappointed and confused. A report Tuesday said that Tech was penalized by the NCAA because someone impermissibly sent two texts to a recruit, known as “Will.” Adams said he never received any texts from any Tech coaches.
Seemingly secure in his commitment to the Yellow Jackets, things began to change last week. Auburn offered him a scholarship Monday. Georgia offered him a scholarship Thursday, but they were too late. Adams decided to visit Auburn on Friday.
He said he knew as soon as he made that decision, he likely wasn’t going to sign with the Jackets. More than anything else, he wanted to be in the SEC. “It means everything,” Adams said.” It’s been a dream of mine for years. Growing up, I was really influenced by the Dawg Nation, to be a Dawg. But deep down, the place I really wanted to go all my life was Auburn.”
Adams spent most of the school day Friday holed up in a classroom and on the phone with Tech’s Paul Johnson and Auburn’s Gene Chizik. When Adams at first decided that he wasn’t going to visit Auburn, he said Johnson told him that was good and that he was going to cancel a visit for a player that was coming to Tech. But Adams changed his mind, reasoning he needed something to compare Tech with. He told Johnson. He left Friday night, taking Williams with him.
Adams told Chizik late Saturday night that he knew Auburn was the place for him. He called Johnson on Sunday, who tried to dissuade him. He said the news about Spencer didn’t cause him to change his mind, but it did play a small part.
“He had a hard time deciding even to take a visit,” Sandy Creek offensive line coach Jamie Glover said. “But on Monday, you could really tell the weight of the world was off him.”
While Adams was happy, Williams was struggling. Long committed to the Tigers, he was starting to waver as Georgia pushed hard.
Adams took Williams to a local mall Monday to buy Auburn hats to wear Wednesday. Williams wasn’t sure he wanted one. He and his uncle, Kevin Ofchus, created a chart on a marker board a long time ago, listing all of the schools under consideration. Georgia wasn’t included. After Williams visited Athens, Georgia was added. Eventually, Auburn and Georgia were the only schools left. He said he felt great at Georgia, and liked coach Mark Richt, but in the end, “I just felt like I was at home at Auburn,” Williams said.
Adams said he will write a book about his recruiting experience. He said he was treated fairly by all the coaches, and had nothing but good things to say about the coaches at Tech.
Standing in an office in the media center, Adams and Williams said they were happy. Adams, wearing a blue pin-striped shirt with blue tie, and Williams, wearing a black shirt and black pants, joked a little bit about getting something to eat.
Signing Day was done.
“It’s such a relief,” Adams said.
– AJC Recruiting Blog
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