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Bulldog senior changes commitment to Alabama
WilliamsDora's Chavis Williams makes one of his 123 tackles this season. Williams de-committed to Arkansas and will sign with Alabama on Wednesday. (Photo by Johnathan Bentley)
RUSSELL MOORE and JOHNATHAN BENTLEY
The Daily Mountain Eagle

Published February 03, 2007 5:53 PM CST
DORA — Chavis Williams was comfortably sitting in anatomy class Friday morning when a popular figure visited Dora High School. It was Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
And he had a football scholarship awaiting the Dora defensive end.
Williams didn’t hesitate at all in swaying his verbal commitment from Arkansas to the Tide. He also became the county’s first Southeastern Conference commitment since Parrish’s Tony Dixon. Williams will sign a letter-of-intent on Wednesday, national signing day.
Saban’s visit wasn’t too much of a surprise for Williams after the Dora senior spent last weekend in Tuscaloosa on a recruiting trip.

“I had an idea he might come because I had been talking with Alabama anyway,” Williams said. “It’s just best for me to go there. At first I thought it was just going to be coach (Kevin) Steele coming. Then he called and told me that coach Saban was coming. I was like, ‘Wow!’ That kind of sealed the deal for me right there.”

Saban arrived at Dora at 10 a.m. Friday and spent approximately 30 minutes in principal Ricky Pate’s office along with Steele, Williams and Dora head football coach Johnny Wright.

Saban didn’t have to sell Williams on the program too much. After last weekend’s visit, Williams was just waiting on an offer from the Tide.

“I had a real good time last weekend and hung out with the team. I learned a lot about the defensive schemes and was told what was expected as an outside linebacker,” Williams said.

Current Alabama linebacker Prince Hall guided Williams around the campus last weekend as they attended Alabama’s basketball game with Arkansas. Hall also did his part in persuading Williams to the Capstone if the opportunity arose.

“Prince said that if I came here all I needed to do was work hard, and I could have a chance to play early on at outside linebacker,” added Williams, who spent his Dora career at defensive end and tight end.

Saban also had his words of encouragement for the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Williams.

“Coach Saban said he likes the way I get to the ball, my size and ability to grow. He told me if I work hard I can go to the next level. He also said the most important thing is to get an education,” said Williams, who is planning to major in business.

Wright, who helped Williams through the decision-making process, was thrilled to see the end result. It’s Dora’s first SEC commitment in 12 years.

“I told coach Saban that he was getting a guy who will play hard. Chavis is a big guy who can play physical ball and run. He has tremendous work habits and has always worked hard since I’ve had him. The whole community of Dora is excited for him. He will fit in well there,” Wright added.

Alabama has eventual plans for Williams at outside linebacker after losing Juwan Simpson and Terrence Jones to graduation. Hall finished third on the team last year with 77 tackles and is slated to move to middle linebacker.

Williams had previously gave Arkansas a verbal commitment on Oct. 31, but the strong pursuit by Alabama was too hard to decline.

He still has the utmost admiration for the Razorbacks.

“Arkansas was always a good choice. I’ve still got a lot of respect for Arkansas and for coach Markuson who recruited me,” Williams said. “Right after Arkansas offered me, Alabama came in. They’ve been on my mind since then. When coach Saban was named coach I was thinking, ‘Man, I wish I could play for them. He’s a good leader.’”

Williams was an integral part of Dora’s success last season. He helped direct the Bulldogs to an 11-2 campaign and to the 4A quarterfinals. Williams was a threat on both sides of the ball. He was second on the team with 123 tackles and he finished with 393 receiving yards and six touchdowns offensively.

Williams realized his Division I potential toward the end of last season.

“Actually it came to me last year that if I worked really hard I would have a chance to play in college,” Williams said. “I started to really understand my ability this year.”

He will begin his college career in July when he plans to attend classes and workout with the team.

Williams, who grew up an Auburn fan, is thrilled to be able to continue his football career close to home so he can leave a mark for the area.

“Now I want to beat Auburn, and I want to represent the county and area well,” Williams added.

Wright, who has coached Williams on the varsity squad for the last three years, found about Alabama’s visit Friday morning.

“Coach Steele was on his way and asked me if Chavis was still interested in going to Alabama. I had a talk with Chavis and he said he definitely was. That’s when (Steele) called coach Saban and they headed up here. Coach Steele got here first and Saban was about 30 minutes behind him,” Wright said. “This is really what Chavis wanted. He’s canceling everything else. He’s worked himself hard to get to this position. He’ll reap the benefits.”

Wright said Dora’s success on the gridiron has brought increased interest in his players by college recruiters. The Bulldogs have won 51 games over the last five years.

“We’ve put Dora on the map with our success over the last few years. Our kids are getting noticed and I think that has a lot to do with it. Having Chavis sign will help out tremendously. People know where Dora High School is and they know that we’ve got some people who can play in Walker County.”

Williams is the 22nd-ranked prospect in the state according to Rivals.com and is a three-star recruit on the Web site.

Alabama now has eight verbal commitments from the top 30 prospects in the state, while Auburn has seven.

Alabama has commitments from Decatur linebacker Rolando McClain, defensive tackle Kerry Murphy, Athens defensive tackle Alfred McCullough, Hoover offensive lineman Patrick Crump, Prattville defensive lineman Nick Gentry, Williamson offensive lineman Nick Fairley, Mountain Brook offensive lineman William Vlachos and B.C. Rain defensive tackle Elliott McGaskin.

The Tide is also awaiting word on McGill Toolen’s Sidell Corley, who is a four-star defensive end. Corley is strongly considering Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Auburn’s top recruits in the state are Davidson defensive back Michael McNeill, Hoover offensive lineman Ryan Pugh, Benjamin Russell linebacker Eltoro Freeman, B.C. Rain defensive back Ryan Williams, Huntsville wide receiver Quindarius Carr, Hoover defensive tackle Josh Chapman and W.S. Neal offensive lineman Jared Cooper.

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