On Saturday evening, courtesy of one decision entirely out of his control, Little Rock (Ark.) Joe T. Robinson weak-side defensive end Zach Williams became a much more important target for Texas after elite Fort Worth Nolan Catholic product NaNa Osafo-Mensah pledged to Notre Dame.
With Texas’ top target at the position now off the board and headed out of state, it appears as if Williams will fill that void as the Longhorns’ priority at weak-side defensive end.
An Arkansas legacy — Williams’ father, Ricky, is one of the greatest linebackers in Razorbacks history — Williams was long thought to be a heavy Razorbacks lean, where he could follow in his father’s footsteps. However, Texas is altering that perception, at least for the moment. In April, Williams made his first visit to the Forty Acres for the Longhorns spring game, and when the four-star prospect headed back to The Natural State, he did so with a Texas offer in hand.
Williams’ trip to Texas has since earned rave reviews, as well as four recent Crystal Ball projections favoring the Longhorns. Williams is also aiming for a return trip to Texas in the near future, but this isn’t exactly going to be as simple as a two-horse race between two old SWC foes.
After initially expecting to shut his recruitment down early, Williams’ stock has exploded as of late. Since March 22, offers have rolled in from Florida, Alabama, TCU, Baylor, and Texas following unofficial visits to each, in addition to invitations from Tennessee, Georgia, and Cal, among others. As expected, this new-found attention has prolonged the process, as Williams now plans to more closely evaluate his least of nearly two dozen offers. As is, Williams has an official visit set for Oregon State on June 8, and plans to officially visit the Red Raiders over the summer, as well, so it’s clear that he’s open to going out of state.
Nothing else is set in stone just yet, but there’s good reason to believe two of his final three official visits could be awarded to Arkansas and Texas.
Shortly thereafter, Williams reported plan in place is to cut his list. At the moment, Williams is the only weak-side defensive end prospect that Texas is in an ideal position with, and the ‘Horns can help their case even further once Williams returns to the Forty Acres at some point this summer, for an official visit or otherwise.
As evident by its recent pursuit of Osafo-Mensah, Texas plans to take at least one hybrid weak-side defensive end edge rusher this cycle, and that take may very well ultimately be Williams.
Academics, a family atmosphere, and early playing time are key selling points in Williams’ recruitment, and Texas has certainly been known to offer all three.
A fast-rising prospect with a solid frame and impressive burst off the line of scrimmage and great speed in pursuit, Williams recorded 70 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as a junior. He was recently awarded his fourth star in the 247Sports Composite rankings, where he’s slotted as the nation’s No. 27 weak-side defensive end prospect and the No. 5 player in Arkansas.