Back during the early signing period, Kentucky had a great first day but got some even better news the very next day. After some early mixups, Joel Williams sent in his National Letter of Intent into Lexington to become the newest member of Kentucky’s secondary. The blue-chip prospect who was ranked No. 357 by the 247 Sports Composite brings excellent size to the position.
At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, the Baton Rouge native has terrific size for the position and that was something that was lost when Derrick Baity Jr., Lonnie Johnson and Chris Westry moved on to the National Football League. Despite that height, wingspan and natural fit to what would be UK’s boundary corner that plays on the short side of the field, Williams also has the ability to play safety.
At Madison Prep Academy, the rangy defensive back played both corner and safety. He could easily translate to either position at the collegiate level after recording eight interceptions in his last two seasons of high school ball. Playing for secondary coach Steve Clinkscale, he is willing to to contribute at either spot. “I’m playing every position at defensive back,” Williams said about his first couple weeks in Lexington.
When Michael Smith was added to the coaching staff following the departure of Lamar Thomas after the 2017 season, one thing the Kansas State alum was bringing were some deep ties to Louisiana. After taking a year to settle in, we are now starting to see the fruits of his labor. Kentucky went down to the Pelican State to land quarterback Amani Gilmore and nearly stole blue-chip wide receiver Devonta Lee from LSU. At the beginning of the 2019 season, UK was able to reel in LSU transfer and former top-50 recruit Kelvin Joseph. In the class of 2020, they were able to land another defensive back from Baton Rouge. On his one visit to Lexington for the Arkansas game back in October the staff was able to win him over as UK “felt like another home,” Williams said. “I really can trust the coaches. I really can trust the program.”
One thing that is becoming a common theme with all of the recruits is the mentioning of competing for SEC titles. You can tell that this is a selling point for the coaches in the recruiting process and the program as a whole feels like it is now an achievable goal after years of steady growth under Mark Stoops. “Kentucky can win the SEC. They can be SEC champs. That’s what I believe,” Williams said. There is no hiding from the fact that being in Atlanta on the first weekend in December is where UK wants to go next.
When you land any blue-chip recruit, you expect that player to come in with confidence. Joel Williams does not lack that in the slightest and his tape shows a player that plays the game with a lot of swagger. Despite being listed at just 6-foot-1, he plays much bigger thanks to a very long reach and has the tools to eventually be an All-SEC caliber corner. With that said, he has enough athleticism to additionally be a safety and the long strider can cover a bunch of ground in a hurry. Kentucky has a loaded secondary room and Williams will fit right in with a group that has a ton of potential.