Duaron Williams could get used to this traveling stuff. Just as long as they give him an emergency exit-row seat.
You can’t scrunch up the 6-foot-4, 294-pound offensive lineman in a regular airplane seat.
“My legs would be all up in somebody’s back,” said the Orlando Jones High senior, who has been on a bit of a college football tour over the past month. “I love flying. It’s fun. It does get tiring, of course, but it’s fun. I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to travel around. A lot of kids wish they could do it.”
A lot of kids may not pick Lawrence, Kan., or Fort Collins, Colo., as their destinations. Philadelphia, however, is a definite maybe. That’s where Williams has been, visiting campuses, coaches and players at
Kansas, Colorado State and most recently, Temple, from where he arrived back back home in Orlando on Sunday evening.
“It was great,” Williams said of the City of Brotherly Love. “It was a lot different from a
Florida city. Philly is huge and they have a lot of tall buildings and things like that. It was a good experience.
“The campus at Temple is right in the middle of the city and that’s what’s so unique about it.”
Temple was the one campus he left where he doesn’t have to worry about the head coach being fired. Former Florida Gators’ assistant
Steve Addazio runs the show for the 6-6 Owls, who will be heading to the New Mexico Bowl to face Wyoming on Dec. 17
“They’re going to a bowl, they had a pretty good season,they have a monster running back [
Bernard Pierce], the No. 3 defense in the country,” Williams said of Temple. “The program is coming up fast.”
Not so much can be said for the coaches at the first two stops on his tour. Turner Gill was fired as Kansas head coach last week after a 2-10 season and a 5-19 record in his two years with the Jayhawks. Williams’ recruiting contact at Kansas is Reggie Mitchell, who has been named interim head coach.
Colorado State head coach Steve Fairchild was fired on Sunday after three straight 3-9 seasons and a 16-33 record in his four years with the Rams.
“You don’t commit to a coach. You commit to a program,” Williams said. “Eveybody knows college football is a business. Things happen and you have to learn to adjust and move on.”
Most figured Williams for a college guard given his 6-4 height, but the man they call ‘Big Dawg’ said his 6-foot, 11-inch wingspan has coaches still wanting to use him on the outside, as well as at guard.
“They like that wingspan,” Williams said. “I can extend and keep the defense away from me, and if they can’t get close to me, they can’t get close to the quarterback.”
Williams said no school has separated itself from the other.
“They all are right there … my top schools,” he said. “I just have to take my last couple of visits and see where it goes from there and make my decision.”
He visits Iowa State next weekend and has not scheduled a UCF visit yet, but those two round out his top five.
Williams has an interesting week that lies ahead. Tuesday he and his mother will play hosts to Iowa State coaches for an in-house visit, then it’s the Kansas coaches on Wednesday, before UCF coaches drive across town for a Thursday visit.
Then on Friday, he will be back in the friendly skies en route to Ames, Iowa, for his vist to the ISU campus. His other possible choice was
Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs appear to be dropping out of contention. That makes all of Williams’ options schools from cold-weather winter climates.
“Weather doesn’t really factor in for me,” Williams said. “You just have to adjust. If I ever do get a chance to play at the NFL level, there are only 32 cities you can live in, with most of them being up north. It’s just one of those things you have to play through.”
Interest for Williams, who was named the top junior offensive lineman in the country last year by National Underclassmen Combines (NUC), dipped off a bit after the opening game this year. He tore his ACL against Lake Wales and missed the rest of the season.
Williams said every school has tested his knee during his visits to keep track of his progress.
“Everything is looking real good,” Williams said. “The rehab is going really, really well and I finally got started back to running. I’ve also been lifting some light weights and getting my strength back. … just keep moving forward.”
Williams, who will not be an early enrollee and has picked a tenative commitment date of Jan. 3, said his most active recruiter has been Matthew Williams.
Never heard of him? Proably because he’s not a coach. This Williams, no relation, is a star basketball player, friend and classmate of Duaron’s at Jones High, and he signed with UCF and basketball coach
Donnie Jones on Nov. 9.
“ Every day, every single day of the week,” Duaron said of how much the hoops-playing Williams talks to him about committing to UCF. “He’s always like, ‘Go ahead, make the decision.’ ”
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at