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How Nebraska Football’s Keith Williams Works the Recruiting Trail

nebraska football keith williams
Ben Coleman,

Nebraska football fans are very familiar with wideouts coach Keith Williams by now. His swag, his style, his passion for the position he teaches. Now he’s out there, on safari as he says, looking for the next pupils of a special brand of coaching: Savage Professionalism.

Every day I’m hustlin’, every day I’m hustlin’…

247Sports currently ranks Williams as the No. 20 recruiter in the country. Every commitment he’s credited with has been a four-star prospect. Recently, another highly-touted recruit (Isaah Crocker) had the following to say about Nebraska:

“They have the best wide receiver coach in the nation, hands down. I know for sure they can make me into an elite player, without a doubt.”

From Florida to Texas to California he goes looking for the next great Big Red wideout to install in head coach Mike Riley’s offense.

Nebraska fans both casual and hardcore may think that the Huskers need a speedster here or a big-bodied guy there, but that’s not how Williams approaches the recruiting game. He’s after whoever he thinks is sweet. Some of his best players have been small and speedy. Others have been big men that can give a bit more punch off their first step.

Williams knows everyone wants Randy Moss or Julio Jones, but he sees no logical reason to fall victim to how an undeveloped seventeen-year-old high school senior looks. Development is going to tell far more about if a recruit can contribute within a year or two of their college career than if they look like an NFL superstar did at their age.

When it comes to making the connection with the elite talent Nebraska’s going after these days, there’s no surefire recipe for success, but Williams has his ways.

“I don’t have a Nobel Peace Prize in recruiting. My opinion of guys that I’ve recruited, whatever kind of player they are or end up being, I’ve just had a connection with them. The connection for whatever the reason works for them, it works for me.”

He also points out that a recruit’s list of priorities will make or break a relationship. It could be their connection with a given coach, the proximity to home, but it’s all about finding that list of needs and wants from the prospect. At that point, Williams can see if what he has to offer fits into the recruit’s future.

Nebraska’s wideout coach extolls the virtues of an education first and foremost but getting your P.h.D. with Dr. Route is opportunity 1B.

“If you’re obsessed with being developed to your potential as a wideout, that’s where it starts with me. I try to make you believe that I’m the man that can do that.”

Every day I’m hustlin’, every day I’m hustlin’…

If coaches can get a prospect to Lincoln, there’s a chance they end up in scarlet and cream. It’s a shared belief among those closest to recruiting the newest Nebraska football players, Williams included. “No doubt about it – one million percent,” in his words.

It may sound like a broken record, but he points to the fans as the reason for visits being so successful. Even as a grown man and an employee of the university, he gets taken aback sometimes. There’s a genuine passion for the program. Fans don’t just show up to see a football game, they show up to see Nebraska play.

Players like recent Nebraska commit Manuel Allen were scribbling their names on helmets and footballs during the Red-White Spring Game. Williams is quick to point out that these are kids in 11th grade who’ve never witnessed anything like that. What makes it unique in his eyes is that these aren’t “paparazzi-type” fans as he calls them.

“It’s an informed, educated genuinely interested fan. The kid doesn’t feel that it’s fly-by-night. They feel like ‘if I do come to Nebraska, this is the way I’m going to feel every day.'”

As of now, Williams is taking part in the evaluation part of the recruiting process. He’s sitting down with high school football coaches across the country getting to know about their players, paying very close attention to what they have to say. If he happens to see a recruit in person, he’s taking notes about body language and how the player acts around his teammates.

While he continues his grind, the biggest date on the calendar as of today is June 18. Coveted four-star prospect Joshua Moore will be announcing his school of choice and there’s an understanding that his brother Jordan, a current Texas A&M commit, wants to play college football with him.

There’s no time to rest, though. Even when the 2018 wideouts have made their pledges, there’s 2019 and 2020 to get a jump on. Such is the way of the world for one of the nation’s best recruiters.

Every day I’m hustlin’, every day I’m hustlin’…

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