Pitt FB Recruiting
2024 4-Star LB Gabriel Williams Blown Away During Visit, Coming Back For Official
Gabriel Williams can admit now that he went into his Pitt visit with a certain level of expectation — or rather, a lack thereof.
But he spent the entire day at Pitt, one of the first to arrive at 7 a.m. and very likely the last to leave at 7 p.m., and it opened his eyes to a type of program he didn’t expect.
Williams — a 6-foot-4, 190-pound four-star linebacker from St. Vincent Pallotti in Laurel, Maryland — made a visit to Pitt on Saturday, hanging out with the coaching staff and checking out a scrimmage, and it’s safe to say the actual experience completely changed his perspective with Pitt.
“Yeah, because you let people get in your ear, like, ‘Pitt? Why you going to Pitt?’ And it was mixed reviews. Some people are, like, ‘Why you going to Pitt?’ But then my uncle went to Pitt, so he’s like, ‘Pitt’s like that.’ And people that went on visits were telling me it’s a good place to go to. So, it was mixed reviews, so I didn’t know what to think, but (the visit) definitely blew it out the water.”
Had an amazing visit at pitt saturday! shout out to @HamlinIsland @CoachDuzzPittFB @CoachAPowell @Coach_Manalac for my amazing time !! will definitely be back #H2P pic.twitter.com/hz5Cj2Wuip
— Gabriel_williams (@8kgabe1) April 3, 2023
It was an “amazing” visit Saturday, the sort of eye-opening experience that he didn’t expect. The people were nice, the scrimmage was intense and his relationship with the coaching staff grew immensely during his day-long experience.
“I think seeing the practice helped a lot because you can see how the coaches coach, and just sitting down with the coaches, talking with them, getting on the board, talking about the defense, watching my film and watching what they think I can be in their defense definitely just made it better,” Williams said. “And their people, they talked to me like they already know me, just showed a lot of love.”
He attended Pitt’s scrimmage at Acrisure Stadium, watching the defense pull out a second straight victory over the offense, and he liked what he saw. A lot of blitzing, a lot of hitting and maybe most importantly, a lot of energy.
“They had energy every time someone made a play,” Williams said. “Everyone screamed, they were dapping them up. You just see them fly sideline to sideline … You see them do everything, drop into space, that’s me right there. So, I think not one linebacker is one dimensional, they all do a lot of things in the defense.”
The scrimmage opened his eyes to Pitt, but his time back at the facility — catching up with Pat Narduzzi, Ryan Manalac and Andre Powell — really built the foundation of the visit. He spent nearly three hours just with Manalac, breaking down his high school film and talking about his seamless fit in the defense.
Manalac told him that he already knows how to be a linebacker in Pitt’s system — and how to do it well. There’s different terminology, but it’s a similar style of play.
“In this defense, he allows me to do everything,” Williams said. “Play in space, come off the edge and blitz, even play a little bit of man. That defense is just amazing, six-man pressures, it just allows me to do things I do on my defense now at the school I’m at now.”
Williams was an All-Conference linebacker as a junior at St. Vincent Pallotti, flashing the ability to be a playmaker across the defense. It’s a style of play that would fit either outside linebacker slot well. He could play all three positions if needed.
The scheme is a fit, but it’s about more than just football. Powell has been in touch every single day since he was offered back in October, hitting him up with a text or a phone call, and Narduzzi himself made it clear that Williams is a major priority.
It helps, in Williams’ eyes, that Narduzzi is locked in, too. He’s been at Pitt eight years, and he isn’t going anywhere. It’s hard to find stability in college football, but Pitt offers that.
Pitt also offers the chance to connect with former stars on a near-daily basis — as Williams learned quickly.
“We were in coach Narduzzi’s office, and we were in there for probably an hour already,” Williams said. “Talking football. And then (Damar Hamlin) just walked in. Nobody knew he was coming, he just walked in. And we just started talking. He sat down with us on the couch, and we talked for another hour. Him, me, coach Narduzzi and my brother.
“(Hamlin) told me that you’re going to have that gut feeling. He told me that he thought he was a Big Ten guy, and he was going to go to the Big Ten, he never saw himself in the ACC, and I kinda felt that way at the beginning, but now I’m starting to see that I might be most valuable in the ACC because that’s where all best athletes come from.”
Williams and Hamlin were able to just talk about life. There was some football talk, about Bills teammate Stefon Diggs and how he was just in Mayland, but it was just like old friends catching up. It was the same with Narduzzi, too. Why he chose Pitt, what he likes about his time in Pittsburgh and even his family.
“We were the last people to leave the building,” Williams said. “It was definitely a humbling experience getting to know coach Narduzzi past football.”
247Sports rates Williams as the 214th-ranked recruit in the class (20th-ranked linebacker and the sixth-ranked recruit from Maryland) while On3 rates him as the 107th-ranked recruit in the class (eighth-ranked linebacker and the second-ranked recruit from Maryland).
Rivals rates him as the 27th-ranked outside linebacker and the 12th-ranked recruit from Maryland — holding a 5.8 Rivals Rating.
He holds offers from Boston College, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Memphis, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Penn State, Pitt, Tennessee, USC, Virginia and Virginia Tech, and he’ll be checking out Arizona State Saturday, USC Tuesday, Miami Wednesday and Florida Thursday.
There isn’t a timeline set in stone going forward, just a desire to be committed in early July after a few official visits.
“I have two for sure (official visits),” Williams said. “Pitt and Duke, those are the ones that are pretty much set up right now.”
The Pitt official visit isn’t totally set up yet, but it’s looking like it will be during the first weekend in June. He wants to make sure he makes the right decision, looking completely into it with his family, but Pitt has solidified itself as a contender.
“They’re definitely in my top schools. Probably the best visit I’ve been on all around,” Williams said.
great story … seems like the Pitt way resonated with the young man. Hope it all works out for him. H2P !