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College Football

Carolina, ECU add to football recruiting haul

Posted January 6, 2009

Brennan Williams has always been ahead of his time on the football field.

Williams played for the freshman team at Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, Mass., when he was just a seventh grader, moved to the junior varsity as an eighth grader, then made the varsity as a freshman.

So it’s no surprise that four years later Williams has become a player coveted by coaches at a higher level once again.

Major-college programs like Boston College, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Syracuse, Wake Forest and Virginia came offering scholarships this year as the 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman entered his senior season.

Williams finally settled on North Carolina as his college of choice Saturday, making the announcement on national television during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

The Tar Heels only became a player in the Williams sweepstake in October, but made up ground quickly to beat out Boston College and Wake Forest at the end.

UNC offered the right combination of athletics and academics for Williams, according to Catholic Memorial head coach Alex Campea.

“North Carolina has an outstanding reputation on and off the field as an institution,’’ Campea said. “I’ve been here for 25 years, and was a guidance counselor here for 15 of those years, and we’ve been fortunate enough to have some students, not athletes, go down to North Carolina.

“I know that it fulfills all the things that Brennan was looking for — a school that had a great academic reputation and a school that competed at a very high level athletically. Both of those were part of the package.’’

Among the nation’s best

In Williams, the Tar Heels have landed one of the nation’s top-ranked offensive linemen.

Rivals.com ranks Williams as the nation’s No. 7 offensive guard prospects, while Scout.com has him No. 15 among offensive tackles.

The son of former NFL player Brent Williams, Brennan Williams played guard at Catholic Memorial as a freshman before moving to tackle as a 10th- and 11th-grader. Williams became a center this season when his team converted to a spread offense and needed a reliable snapper.

Campea said Williams played on the defensive and offensive lines as a senior, but he expects UNC will use him at offensive tackle.

“On our team, the only time he came off the field for a blow was on special teams,’’ Campea said. “I didn’t want him running down the field on kickoffs. Otherwise he started on offense and he started on defense.”

The oral commitment from Williams is another positive step as the Tar Heels attempt to restock their talent on the offensive line. He is the third blocking prospect to commit to the UNC class, which now totals 26.

Shrine pair picks ECU

Two players picked for the North Carolina squad in last month’s Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas all-star game are now part of East Carolina’s recruiting Class of 2009.

Wide receiver Kendrick Wiggins from Southern Durham High and cornerback Perry James of Davie County have joined what is now a 16-man class for the Pirates.

Wiggins, a 5-11, 180-pounder with 4.39-second speed in the 40-yard dash, caught 44 passes for 659 yards and four touchdowns as a senior. He also returned 16 kickoffs for 515 yards and four more scores.

The Pirates were the first school to offer Wiggins.

“They showed love for him,’’ Southern Durham coach Adrian Jones said. “They called him on a regular basis and talked to his parents. He likes what they’re doing there with their program.’’

James has been a starter at Davie County since his freshman season. His recruitment moved slowly this year because he missed the 2007 season with a shoulder injury.

So ECU took a chance on the 6-1, 180-pounder by offering a scholarship based on video from his sophomore season.

“East Carolina has gotten a real steal,’’ Davie County coach Doug Illing said. “They saw his sophomore film and thought he was skilled enough to play at their level. So they took a chance and offered him early.’’

Writer Sammy Batten can be reached at battens@fayobserver.com or 486-3534.

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