As Dequan Williams racked up the most sacks in Manatee County and positioned himself as a clear-cut first-team All-Area selection by the Herald, Rashad West repeatedly touted his star pass rusher as a Division I prospect.
But with only a few weeks until national signing day, Williams was stuck looking at Division II and junior college programs. As recently as Monday, West wasn’t sure if Williams would take part in Southeast’s signing day ceremony.
Williams took the stage in Southeast High School’s auditorium with four of his teammates Wednesday with a hat from a D-I program atop his head. In a matter of weeks, Williams went from off the radar to a Football Championship Subdivision signee with Central Connecticut State.
“I’m happy for that kid because he produced,” said West, the Seminoles’ head coach. “He was a kid that was very productive, and it’s great for him to get an opportunity. It came down to the wire in the sense of where he was going, and if it was going to come all together this week, but it all started to come together for him. I’m just happy he’s going to get an opportunity to keep playing.”
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Williams began talking to Blue Devil coaches two weeks ago and took his visit to New Britain, Conn., last week. CCSU offered him Thursday with the hope that the 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior will have his production translate as a linebacker at the next level once he signed his National Letter of Intent.
During his final season in Bradenton, Williams recorded 99 tackles, 32 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a county-leading 11 1/2 sacks. Williams was a first-team All-Area pick and a first-team All-State selection by the Associated Press.
“They’re rebuilding and they find me to be a good part,” Williams said.
The rest of the Noles’ signing day ceremony went off as expected. Darrien Grant stood by his commitment to South Florida despite USF’s coaching staff changes. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive end is considered a three-star recruit by 247sports.com’s composite rankings, which also pegged the senior as the No. 290 player in Florida and No. 95 weak-side defensive end in the country.
Grant, who recorded six sacks as a senior, was a first-team All-Area selection and second-team All-State choice by the AP. He chose the Bulls over Duke, North Carolina State and Navy. He said USF plans to move him to linebacker, and the chance to play for new head coach Charlie Strong, a defense-minded coach, was an appeal.
“After coach (Willie) Taggart left I was a little bit nervous, just with the coaching staff change and you don’t know how the program is going to be,” Grant said. “After meeting coach Strong I was pretty set.”
Three other Seminoles are going on to play at the JUCO level. Defensive backs Quay Harvey and Bradley Tresalus signed to play at Dakota College at Bottineau in North Dakota, and athlete Terrance Pryor Jr. committed to Mesa Community College in Phoenix.