For close to five hours, Wetumpka offensive line Christian Williams offered his best sales pitch to G.W. Carver receiver Landy Capetillo during an October road trip across state lines.
Already committed to Western Kentucky, Capetillo had to listen to Williams spell out every possible reason why Georgia Southern’s football program would be an overall better fit than his current choice.
“I think about every other sentence I kept telling him to ‘join the journey,’ ” Williams said laughing. “I didn’t pressure him too much. I just wanted him to go up there because I knew Georgia Southern’s whole campus was going to speak for itself. I knew I didn’t have to do much.”
He was right.
Upon returning to Montgomery, the Carver senior abruptly switched commitments in favor of an Eagles football program that will join the Sun Belt Conference next season. Georgia Southern finished 7-4 in its final campaign as a member of Division I-AA Southern Conference.
“He kept saying that I was going to like it there once I came for a visit,” Capetillo recalled of the Oct. 12 trip. “When I got over there, everything Christian said about the school was true. The coaches are pretty cool and showed me so much love — mad love. After that I just switched.”
For Williams, who has been committed to the Eagles since June, getting a verbal from Capetillio just further solidified his alliance. However, it was Georgia Southern’s stunning, season-ending victory at Florida that perhaps provided the most confidence about his decision.
“Even though I was already committed, that right there just put it over the top for me,” the 6-1, 305-pound center said. “Nobody gave Georgia Southern a chance, I had friends at school coming up to me saying ‘Go Gators.’ I listened to the game on my iPad on this radio station in Georgia from the second quarter all the way through. It was nice.”
The two high school standouts will not have to wait until next fall to share the same practice field. Capetillo and Williams are two of the many high school standouts who were chosen to participate in this weekend’s annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic at Cramton Bowl.
It’s a bittersweet moment for Capetillo, who will practice with team Alabama but will not suit up because he’s taking the ACT test in Auburn. The 6-foot-1 wideout hauled in 37 catches for 962 yards and 11 touchdowns for a Wolverines squads that reached the Class 6A quarterfinals.
“I was so hurt,” Capetillo said of the conflicting schedule. “Since I am taking the test in Auburn, my coach was like it’s either play or take the test. I decided to take the test because it’s more important for my future than playing in the game.”
The four days of practice will supply as the consolation prize.
“I get to go up against Stephen Roberts (Auburn commit) again,” Capetillo said. “I also want to try Marlon Humphrey (the nation’s No.2-rated cornerback) — I want to see what he’s all about. I like the competition.”
Williams’ main objective is to earn a starting spot.
“I tried not to take any days off,” said the 17-year-old, whose high school was eliminated in the second round by McGill-Toolen. “I’ve staying in shape, doing my drills and trying to stay fundamentally sound to not get a step behind the guys who just finished playing this week. I know having three weeks off makes a difference.”