Ocean Springs junior Austin Williams isn’t a well-known prospect yet, but the wide receiver is quietly putting together one of the top performances at his position during the 2015 high school football season.
Williams helped the Greyhounds to an 8-1 overall record and 5-0 start in region play. Tonight, No. 7 Ocean Springs faces No. 10 Gulfport for the district championship and a shot at the No. 1 seed in the 4-6A playoffs.
Through the first 10 weeks of the season, the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder totaled 43 receptions for 663 yards and four touchdowns. The three-star prospect, according to 247Sports, already held an offer from Louisiana Tech prior to the start of his junior year, but his numbers this season have helped him draw interest from the likes of Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Stanford.
“I’m not used to getting attention or anything from schools,” Williams said regarding his recruitment. “I’m just going with the flow right now. I don’t have a dream offer yet. Anything would be amazing to me.”
In Ocean Springs’ run-first offense, Williams has made the most of his opportunities.
“We’re not spread. We’re a two-back, pro-set, split back veer team,” Ocean Springs coach Ryan Ross said. “We’re going to try to run the football. That’s what gives us the best chance. Austin probably doesn’t get half as many passes thrown at him as these other guys but when we do throw at him, we expect him to win. He is our big play threat.”
The 2017 prospect’s numbers are similar to the top-ranked senior wide receivers in Mississippi. Four-star Starkville product A.J. Brown is at the top with 56 catches for 863 yards and seven touchdowns. Cal commit Jordan Duncan has 45 receptions for 716 yards and four TDs at Oak Grove while Ole Miss commit D.K. Metcalf has 42 receptions for 651 yards and nine TDs. Meridian standout Daniel Crowell is in the mix with 44 receptions for 617 yard and four scores.
Williams has concentrated his junior season on becoming a more physical threat in the Greyhounds passing game. Being on the receiving end of double coverage is a sign of respect for the wide-out.
“I’ve been working a lot and starting to high point the ball and getting a lot better at that,” Williams said. “Coach Ross is giving me a chance to get deep balls.”
His physical attributes make containing Williams a difficult task for defenders. Through 10 weeks, Williams has gotten creative in finding ways to juke defensive backs at the line of scrimmage and burn opponents in the open field with his speed. In jump ball and fade route situations, Williams has excelled in using his hands and body control to haul in tough catches.
“He’s hard to lock up with just one guy, and people have tried that,” Ross said. “It hasn’t fared well other than the Brandon game, and he still got his. … He’s the guy. When you’re talking about production and when your team calls on you to make a play, I’d rather have Austin Williams than anyone else, to be honest with you.”
That sort of ability is what Ross believes is Williams’ top attribute as a future Division I player. His versatility to play inside and outside could help become an even more attractive prospect.
“He can take a pounding inside and a lot of colleges will find the value in a player like him other than being a scat-back type of receiver or just a tall receiver because he’s so physical,” Ross said.
Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or email@example.com. Follow @CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.