August 1, 2013 9:09:39 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
WEST POINT -- Veronica Williams had a sense of pride and joy when her son told her where he wanted to go to college on a football scholarship.
After he told his mother, West Point High School tailback Aeris Williams told the nation Wednesday afternoon and became the 14th verbal commitment to Mississippi State University's 2014 recruiting class.
"I wanted to scream because I was so happy for him that he'd be close to home," Veronica Williams said after her son announced his choice at the West Point High athletic office. "I didn't let him know that because I never want to choose someplace because of what I wanted, but yes, I wanted him at Mississippi State."
Williams, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound tailback, is rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports.com. He also held offers from the University of Mississippi, Florida State University, and the University of Wisconsin. The Williams' family lived in Racine, Wis., before moving to West Point.
MSU offensive line coach John Hevesy and running backs coach Greg Knox were Williams' primary recruiters. Williams said he was impressed with Knox's ability to get former MSU tailbacks Anthony Dixon and Vick Ballard to the NFL. FSU tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Brewster, who coached wide receivers last season at MSU, helped get the Seminoles on Williams' final list.
"I talked to my mom and she loved it at Mississippi State," Williams said. "That was important to me because I'd already talked about it with my friends and I already felt at home there."
As a junior at West Point, Williams led the Green Wave with 1,704 yards and 22 touchdowns and an appearance in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State title game. He was named to The Dispatch's All-
Area second team.
"Aeris is not a 'me guy', and he's a team guy that truly believes his teammates helped get him here," West Point coach Chris Chambless said. "As his coach, it is a relief to me Mississippi State has always taken care of our kids here."
Williams is the fourth West Point High product to give a verbal commitment to MSU. He joins The Dispatch's former Player of the Year Michael Carr and current MSU players Curtis Virges and Justin Cox.
"I took away the idea that at Mississippi State they already made you feel like part of the family from day one, before you ever committed," Williams said.
Williams already has been identified as a elite senior prospect in the state of Mississippi as the Green Wave attempt to make another run at a Class 5A state championship. Veronica Williams also was more than thrilled to have the recruiting process over for her son. Williams informed MSU coach Dan Mullen of his decision Wednesday afternoon before the media gathering at the school.
"It was important to me for Aeris to know this was totally his decision, and we honestly didn't give him much feedback at all," Veronica Williams said. "I knew where I wanted him to be, but, at the same time, when we leave after the games on Saturday, it still needed to be a place he felt comfortable going to class at on Monday morning."
Williams is expected to compete for playing time in what is expected to be a deep group of tailbacks at MSU. The Bulldogs will lose LaDarius Perkins to graduation, and Nick Griffin is coming off his second anterior cruciate ligament injury in his college career, but Josh Robinson and Derrick Milton will be upperclassmen in Williams' first season in Starkville. MSU also signed four-star tailback Ashton Shumpert in the 2013 recruiting class.
247Sports.com has Williams listed as the top running back and the third-highest skill position offensive player in the state. Williams said he made up his mind last weekend after attending the Big Dawgs Camp at Davis Wade Stadium.
"I felt like everything was going right and I felt at home," Williams said. "I just saw (Justin Cox) and he was telling me I'd do a good job at running back and receiver, so I'd fit there."
Williams' verbal commitment is non-binding. He must still wait until National Signing Day on Feb. 2, 2014, to sign a National Letter of Intent to officially become a Bulldog.