Brian Williams is a high school junior and a five-star safety recruit in the class of 2019. He’s the best player in the country at his position, according to the industry consensus, and he’s been committed to Texas A&M since January.
But he’s already a three-time national champion and counting in the football games that matter most: video games.
Williams was in middle school when EA Sports stopped making its NCAA Football series after 2013. A few months ago, Williams was missing the game, so he made a decision.
“I just got the PlayStation 3 a few months ago, just to play NCAA Football again,” the Dallas Bishop Dunne product told SB Nation at a recruiting camp in Dallas last weekend.
“I made Eastern Michigan into a powerhouse.”
Williams has created a virtual juggernaut in Ypsilanti.
The Eagles are one of FBS’ most historically moribund programs, which made them an excellent choice for gamers looking to build a program from the ground up. The real-life EMU could never land a player like Williams, but a video gamer like Williams is always going to want the challenge of turning EMU into something special.
“First, I had to find some plays that would work to win some games, and then I had to recruit. But yeah, from there, I found a good offense, found some good quarterbacks to run it, and just built up from there,” Williams explained. He’s now in his sixth year, and EMU’s speed and offensive creativity has blown away the MAC and driven the program to heights only matched this century by the Crimson Tide.
Williams designed his own playbook, a mixture of items from the game’s Oregon and “spread offense” playbooks. He recruited a quarterback who ran a 4.2-second 40-yard dash and was classified as an “athlete.” His money play is a Y-lead read option, in which a running back stands offset from the QB with an H-back in front of him and three receivers, two on one side of the field. The H-back either lead blocks for a QB keeper, or the running back cuts back and goes into open grass.
“Works every time,” Williams assures.
Williams said he had the country’s No. 10 recruiting class last season. He’s not getting many five-star prospects to EMU yet, but four-stars have started committing in droves.
Star players enjoy college football video games the same way you do. Baker Mayfield used to create himself (as a running back, actually) and play NCAA games when he was a kid.
Next: Helping A&M build an actual juggernaut in College Station.
We’d gotten to talking about video games because Williams plans to study engineering at A&M, with an eye toward becoming a computer engineer.
He’s interested in designing apps or video games some day, which means he’s positioned to accomplish two things that haven’t happened a while: Make a popular football video game, and help Texas A&M win something significant. Williams will keep getting interest from every major program in the country, but he sounds locked in with the Aggies.
“Just from my unofficial [visit], going and talking to someone from the computer engineering department and then athletics, as well, the department of football. Just talking to them and feeling comfortable being able to be an engineer and play football,” he said.
Williams would get to play for two coaches — Jimbo Fisher and coordinator Mike Elko — with whom he’s hit it off well. And he gets to stay close to home.
“It’s Texas. It’s SEC,” he said. “It doesn’t get better than that.”
Williams only did a couple of workouts at the Dallas camp where we spoke, but it’s not difficult to see where all the hype comes from. He’s about 6 feet, and he has the athletic fluidity to change directions quickly and pounce on the ball. He has the potential to help Fisher’s defenses in the same way Derwin James did at Florida State.
“I’m an all-around safety,” Williams said. “I have great ball skills; I can catch a lot of picks, but I can also play in the box or play from the high safety and make tackles. I have a great football IQ, and I’m a team-first player. I’m just gonna do whatever it takes for my team to win.”