University of Miami

Oregon-committed safety Avantae Williams on Miami Hurricanes: ‘I feel like it’s home’

Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Manny Diaz speaks about the future of Paradise Camp

Head Coach Manny Diaz speaks to the media about his vision for the program and Paradise Camp at Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility in Coral Gables, Florida Saturday June 22, 2019.
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Head Coach Manny Diaz speaks to the media about his vision for the program and Paradise Camp at Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility in Coral Gables, Florida Saturday June 22, 2019.

Avantae Williams and Lorenzo Lingard punctuated Paradise Camp with a chest bump. The Miami Hurricanes finished its annual recruiting camp Saturday by breaking the dozens of prospects into groups by age and position to race across the turf of the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility. The last group was the oldest bunch of running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs, a group which included Williams.

Coach Manny Diaz sent them across the field once and the finish was too close to call, so he had them run it again. This time, Williams’ win was obvious, and four-star safety from DeLand immediately sought out Lingard for a flying chest bump near midfield.

“We’re the fastest here. No doubt,” Williams said Saturday with a smile. “I would beat him.”

Williams is currently committed to the Oregon Ducks, but he was once pledged to Miami — an oral commitment he made simultaneously with his cousin Lingard in 2017.

Although he said he is still firm in his commitment to Oregon, Williams has poked around throughout the Southeast to keep his options open. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound defensive back has also visited the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs this year. South Florida, however, still feels like home to Williams even though he hails from Central Florida.

“They say get back home,” Williams said. “I feel like it’s home. ... I can be myself. I ain’t got to like put on an act. I can be myself.

“Everybody thinks from I’m from here, but I’m not from Miami.”

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The No. 47 overall prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, Williams is one of the top remaining targets for the Hurricanes in the Class of 2020 and he’s a perfect stylistic fit in Diaz’s defense. Although he’s slightly undersized, Williams proved his speed Saturday, and his film reveals him to be one of the biggest hitters in all of Florida.

In the 7-on-7 portion of Paradise Camp, Miami tried to match its top offensive targets against its top defensive targets, and Williams rotated in at safety with four-star Rockledge athlete Ladarius Tennison and James Williams, a five-star safety from Davie Western in the Class of 2021, on the de facto first-team unit.

The in-state athlete initially committed to the Hurricanes when former coach Mark Richt was at the helm, but he always loved the energy on the defensive side of the ball. Since Diaz moved from defensive coordinator to coach, Williams has seen the entire team take on the coach’s identity.

“It’s a new vibe. They’ve got a lot of more energy,” Williams said. “’The New Miami’ is really new. ... I already knew what it was going to be.”

While Lingard’s presence could help the Hurricanes, the running back doesn’t plan to be too aggressive in influencing his cousin. Lingard doesn’t talk to Williams too often about recruiting, although Williams does admit it would be cool to finally get to suit up with Lingard, something the two have never done.

“He lets me do me,” Williams said. “He don’t really bother me.”

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