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By LARRY VAUGHT
If there is one thing that should be obvious to elite offensive players about Kentucky football, it’s that the Wildcats will have plenty of chances for playmakers to shine.
“Over the last three years Texas Tech, we were number one team in plays per game,” said new UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown. “We will play faster (than UK did last year). We are a pass-oriented team, but we will run.”
One of those running starting in 2014 could be Georgia’s Stanley “Boom” Williams. He verbally committed to the Wildcats — he’s UK’s 16 commitment in the 2014 recruiting class — during a visit to Lexington Thursday. Rivals.com ranks him not only as a four-star player, but also as the nation’s all-purpose back and 96th overall player in the country.
That makes him Kentucky’s highest ranked recruit in seven years and the first top 100 player to pick UK since Micah Johnson in 2006. His decision also boosted UK to No. 3 in Rival.com’s team rankings for the 2014 class.
Williams, nicknamed “Boom,” rushed for 1,958 yards and 24 touchdowns last year at George Walton Academy. His offers included Clemson, Georgia, Auburn, Georgia Tech, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Williams had committed to Georgia after his freshman season because he said he grew up a Georgia fan and couldn’t wait to commit when he got an offer. However, he recently de-committed from Georgia.
“I dreamed of playing for Georgia and after I ran a 4.28 (second 40-yard dash) my freshman year, me and my family thought committing was the right thing to do. But now I am opening everything back up. We all thought that would be best and not just have my eyes set on one decision and not see what my other options are,” Williams said in a recent interview with The Advocate-Messenger.
Williams, who said he recently ran a 4.31 40, said he felt he would be a “good fit” in Brown’s offense before his visit.
“I think I am more of a spread running back. I can play in any offense. I don’t prefer any particular offense as long as I am helping my team win,” Williams said. “But I do see myself as a good fit in his offense as far as helping the team and making plays, catching the ball, running the ball and blocking. Those are all things I mainly do already.”
He spent spring practice working as a slot receiver working on routes and catching the ball.
Brown wants an all-around back in his fast-paced offense.
During a talk in Nicholasville Thursday night as part of a fundraiser for the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brown praised UK senior back Raymond Sanders for his expected role in next season’s offense. “Raymond was our best back in the spring. He is an all-purpose guy. He can make people miss, catch balls. He can do a lot of things in our offense,” Brown said.
When Brown was at Texas Tech, Williams was being recruited by running backs coach Chad Scott, who came to UK with Brown.
“Recruiting is absolutely the No. 1 thing we have to do,” Brown said Thursday night. “I feel like we have really good coaches but I do not care what sport you are playing, you are only as good as your players. If you don’t recruit at a superior level, you won’t win.”
Kentucky is doing that under first-year coach Mark Stoops. Kentucky now has commitments from five players ranked among the nation’s top 200 players by Rivals.com in its 2014 recruiting class after getting two in the top 225 last year.