During this recruiting cycle, Hykeem Williams has become household name and has transformed into a ‘celebrity’ in the world of high school football recruiting.
That’s what happens when you’re a five-star recruit and have the opportunity to attend virtually any university that he chooses to.
After spending last weekend in New Orleans attending the Florida State-LSU game, Williams was in Pittsburgh this past weekend to take in the Pitt vs. Tennessee clash.
That’s important because that’s possibly the last unofficial visit Williams makes before announcing his college decision next Friday, September 23. Although he hasn’t named a list of finalists, it’s widely believed that Williams will choose between Pitt, Texas A&M, Florida State, Miami and Georgia.
When you’ve reached the level of recruit that Williams has become and are getting recruited by some many teams, this high school senior is getting pulled at in many different directions for information, requests and phone interviews. In some ways it’s a neat thing to experience but at the same time, it becomes tiresome, the pressure builds, and it becomes difficult because Williams is still a teenager.
Last night, Pittsburgh Sports Now had the opportunity to talk with Williams for the first time about his recruiting and more importantly, his weekend in Pittsburgh with the Pitt Panther football program.
My conversation was very enjoyable as Williams was a very intelligent kid with a exuberant personality. Not only was he very outgoing but also showed a sense of humor and will no doubt be a media favorite for whichever college program he eventually signs with.
This weekend was the third time this year that Williams has visited Pitt, but it was his first time visiting for a Panther gameday, which was the point of this visit. Williams tells me that he and his family have received a ton of love from the Pitt fanbase over social media and that continued on Saturday at Acrisure Stadium. That is something that is appreciated and not taken lightly by Williams.
“It really means a lot, it really does,” said Williams. “I’ve put a lot of work into getting to be the player that I am and to be recognized by the fans like that is just amazing. It’s kind of crazy and in some ways hard to believe how recognized I’ve become. I never ever thought it would be like this.”
“The whole day went well. Everyone made me feel like it was home. Everyone made me feel like I was already playing there, like I was a member of the team, actually like I was already a legend there. That is such a great feeling and great to think that that’s what it could be like in the future. I really left with a good feeling.”
Before the game, Williams and his family spend time on the field watching Pitt warmup and got the chance to talk with Tiquan Underwood and other members of the Pitt coaching staff. During the game, he was in the stands watching Pitt battle against Tennessee and despite the loss, Williams was impressed with what he saw from the Panthers.
“By watching them, I could tell that Pitt is a brotherhood,” said Williams. “They stick together and that’s one thing that I like is players that stay together and will go to war for each other. No matter what, no matter if they mess up, they’ll go to war together and have each other’s back.”
“Coach Wood and I talk so much and we’re so close that most of our conversations aren’t even about football. We have such a good vibe, that we’re just talking about family, friends and we’re just chilling. We just don’t talk about football and recruiting, and I really love that.”
Since it’s so close to his decision day, I asked Williams again about his reason for flying up to Pittsburgh from Florida. Was it to have one more conversation with the Pitt staff or to learn something more about their plans for him or to find out more about the university and Pittsburgh?
“No, I’ve been to Pittsburgh before, but I was never at a game before and have never gotten to experience the gameday atmosphere. This was my time to see it, my time to see what they do and how they operate.”
“I loved it (the atmosphere),” said Williams. “I loved everything about it. SWEET CAROLINE, SWEET CAROLINE [Williams sang on the phone]. That was great, loved it.”
Before he got back on the plane and head home to Fort Lauderdale, I asked him about any closing recruiting pitch that the Pitt staff had for him before next Friday’s decision day.
“They just told me that Pitt needs me and that I would be a major factor on their team and that I would fit right in. They let me know that they really want me to be a part of the Pitt family.”
Obviously, Williams wasn’t going to tell me who he plans on committing to but did say that “I’m somewhat close” to know who he plans on committing to.
Keep this in mind, regardless of who Williams commits to next Friday, he still plans on making an official visit to Texas A&M in December.
Williams is rated as a Rivals 5-star recruit and the No. 16 overall player in the Class of 2023. If he were to commit to the Panthers, he would become the highest rated recruit in the history of Pitt football.
Considering the number of requests he receives on a daily basis, PSN appreciates Williams returning our message and taking the time to talk with us about his most recent Pitt experience.