While Syracuse football fans are still stinging from five straight losses to end their season, one reason for optimism has been an uptick in recruiting. With some openings still left, the 2018 Orange class looks to be solid for head coach Dino Babers and his staff.
One ‘Cuse commit turned a lot of heads in his senior high school season with his ability to make the superhuman play look simple. He also should find himself on the shortlist of the coolest names of any incoming freshman players next fall.
White Plains, New York product Atrilleon “Trill” Williams is a 6-foot-2, 192 pound do-it-all dynamo, whose best position might be cornerback. I say that tentatively because Williams defies labels [editor’s note: think Jabrill Peppers], having lined up throughout this just-concluded season at seven positions: corner, safety, outside linebacker, tailback, wide receiver, punt returner, and quarterback. Yes, you read that right. Along the way, Williams has become a YouTube and social media sensation with his knack for jaw-dropping, highlight reel plays.
A fluid athlete with elite quickness and leaping ability, Trill helped Archbishop Stepinac to their second NY State Catholic High School title in three years with a 49-28 win over Canisius this past Saturday. Williams put the cherry on top with a circus catch in the end zone that wound up in the top slot of SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.
ICYMI – Trill Williams (@GOLD3N_BOII2) made what could be the Catch of the Year. See the entire highlight reel of @StepinacSports' title win here: https://t.co/PGRODw4ese @lohudinsider @NYCHSFL @StepinacHS pic.twitter.com/SOippjvpdy— lohud sports (@lohudsports) November 26, 2017
The Crusaders failed to take home the state championship hardware last season and it’s probably no coincidence that Williams went down with a knee injury in their third game. Williams had arthroscopic surgery in late October 2016 and missed the rest of the year, leaving Stepinac without his game-changing talents.
Fully recovered and boasting a 4.43 time in the 40 that is actually a better time than before the surgery, Trill is reaping the rewards of a tough road back from that major injury. He will take his official visit to Syracuse this coming weekend, before officially signing his National Letter of Intent early on December 20 (the first day of the new early signing period). Then he will take his multi-dimensional skills to the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in New Orleans on December 30. Through the years the O-D Bowl has showcased a stunning array of household gridiron greats, including Lamar Jackson, Cam Newton, and Dez Bryant.
Maybe the scouting services will be next to acknowledge Trill’s post-surgery skills, as he is currently (and inexplicably) only rated as a 3-star.
I spoke to Trill over the phone about a wide range of topics and one thing is clear: he does not lack confidence.
VB: In yesterday’s title game you held (Rutgers wide receiver commit) Paul Woods to one catch when you guys went head-to-head. You also had an interception. Do you play with extra motivation and focus when you’re tasked with shutting down an opponent’s star receiver?
TW: When I’m on the field as a DB, I think I’m the best athlete, so I take it personal when they think they’re gonna get a catch on me, when I know that’s not gonna happen. I might give up one but at the end of the day I’m the best on the field when I play.
VB: On Saturday, you had three touchdowns (one rushing, two receiving) and one INT; how do you play both ways, plus return punts, and not get worn down?
TW: Well, my dad always told me that when he was younger he played both sides of the ball. He never liked coming off the field and he taught me how to play offense and play defense, so it’s a family thing.
VB: One of your touchdowns was the top play on SportsCenter. You caught the ball one-handed while lying on your back and sliding several yards. Can you describe how the heck you did that?
TW: In the off-season, me and my dad would go to fields and he would make me lay on my back and he would throw me balls from different angles, just in case I was ever falling and had to catch it, so that it wouldn’t be a problem and it would be easy. When that play happened I thought about when we did those drills and I just caught it.
VB: Another play that got a lot of attention this year was when you hustled across the field to run down an opposing receiver who was about 10 yards in front of you. You ran him down, tripping him up inside the 5-yard line, preventing a TD. Coach Babers was at that game. Did he talk to you after that game about that play?
I give this game everything I got 💯 pic.twitter.com/mAzoZiHYVT— Trill Williams (@GOLD3N_BOII2) October 15, 2017
TW: After the game I didn’t get to speak to him but I hit him up on Twitter and I thanked him for coming to the game, and then we talked about the play. He said that as soon as he saw me take off running, he knew I was gonna catch him. When I’m on the field I just have a different motor and my in-game speed is just faster than my 40 time.
VB: It must have felt good to see Coach Babers at that game, because that was only one day after SU knocked off Clemson. That must have really meant a lot to you.
TW: I was shocked. I looked over, it was like an alumni crowd and I see him and I see [Orange secondary coach Nick] Monroe wearing Syracuse shirts and I was like, ‘no way, they came after they beat number two [Clemson came into the Dome ranked second in the country]. That’s crazy.’
VB: Why did you pick Syracuse? Could you give me some of the factors that led to your decision?
TW: Coach Monroe really stayed on me. He offered me [a scholarship] week two of last season [one week before he tore his ACL!] and he’s been on my back since then, so I always had him in my ear. My mom, she doesn’t want me to go far; that plays a big part too. School-wise I want to do communications and they have the Newhouse program and that’s what I want to do.
VB: Looking ahead to your role on the field for Syracuse, do you consider yourself a corner? Also, have you been given any indications by the staff as to whether you’ll be allowed to play some on offense and special teams too?
TW: Well, I think for my freshman year they’re gonna have me just at corner because I think as a freshman they don’t want to put too much weight on my shoulders to play some offense. You probably won’t see that until like my sophomore or junior year.
VB: With your skillset, do you think you’re better at corner, rather than safety?
TW: I’m big enough to play safety and I’m big as a corner. I’m bigger than most receivers. I have excellent hips, I can high point the ball, I can jump really high and I just have the mindset to play corner. If someone catches the ball on me, I can say on the next play, he’s not gonna catch the ball on me for the rest of the game.
VB: [chiming in] Yeah, you want to be that shutdown guy.
TW: That’s what I am in my league. I’m the shutdown corner. If you go back and look, every receiver I guarded, I don’t think they got more than 50 yards.
VB: It sounds like you like being out on that island at corner, are there any NFL corners whom you’d compare your game to, or guys whom you’ve patterned your game after?
TW: The two top guys that I’ve really modeled my game after are Jalen Ramsey [second-year Jacksonville Jaguars star out of Florida State] and Deion Sanders [NFL Hall of Famer and also a former Seminole]. There’s just something about Jalen Ramsey’s attitude as a corner that’s hard to find in a cornerback, and I think I have that “It” factor that he does.
VB: Syracuse’s primary defense is the Tampa-2, which relies on its corners being shutdown guys. Is that another reason why you’re a good fit for Syracuse?
TW: Yeah, and I like being physical. I like pressing receivers and that’s what I love to do so that defense will help me be a shutdown corner.
VB: You bounced back from tearing your ACL last fall. Could you talk a little bit about that road to recovery and how that injury changed your perspective as a player?
TW: My mom had a big part in that. She told me that God has plans and this is what He has planned for [me], so I came back better than how I was last year. Not playing really made me learn the game of football, instead of just playing and being athletic. I learned the game in and out and knowledge-wise I’m a better football player.
VB: How would you describe your game to someone who’s never seen you play before What would you tell that person to look for when they’re watching you play?
TW: [long pause] Ah…man. [laughs] This is a tough one. I’d say if I’m on specials, you gotta watch. When the ball’s in my hands, I think I’m a dangerous person. It’s like a WOW every time I touch the ball.
VB: Your Twitter header is a picture of the Heisman Trophy. Is that a window into a personal goal for you as a college player?
TW: For me going into college, that’s my dream. Since I was little that’s what I dreamed about — I would always do the Heisman pose. Next year when I go to college that’s what I’m going to try to aim for. That’s my goal.
VB: That’s a lofty goal. Where do you see yourself in five years?
TW: I see myself hopefully getting drafted.
VB: Finally, do you have a message to Syracuse fans who are excited to see you play next year?
TW: All I’ve got to say is you’re gonna get a hard working player and a great teammate and I’m gonna be there real soon.