Coming into tonight’s Class AAAAAA playoff game against Lowndes, Lovejoy wide receiver Preston Williams has 1,234 receiving yards. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
HAMPTON — In his 37 years of coaching, Lovejoy coach Al Hughes has seen his share of spectacular players and all-star performers.
He has coached several future college standouts and some professional athletes, so it is not easy to impress the veteran coach.
But the performance that current wide receiver Preston Williams had in last week’s thrilling 27-23 win over Marietta was one that impressed even Hughes, as well as the stunned crowd at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
The four-touchdown performance, which included a breath-taking 47-yard reception for the game-winner on the game’s final play, has made its rounds on the Internet as a highlight tape.
“That (catch) is on my list of ‘Wow’ type highlights,” Hughes said. “It is close to the top of my list.”
Williams, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior, has already committed to Tennessee. But after last week, his phone has been ringing consistently from college coaches and recruiting service analysts. He has 54 receptions for 1,234 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He says he is still committed to the Vols.
“I’m solid with them, but a lot of people are coming hard,” Williams said Wednesday evening.
With his 12-catch, 274-yard performance against Marietta, Williams has now been elevated to a five-star prospect by most recruiting services. His play has started a debate among those that follow recruiting that he may possibly be the top player in the 2015 class. Some wonder if he is not the best among this year’s class.
Count Scout.com Director of Scouting Scott Kennedy among the impressed.
“The standout aspects of Williams’ game are obvious to anyone that had seen him,” Kennedy wrote in an e-mail. “He has tremendous size and speed, but he’s much more than just a big, fast receiver. He has tremendous body control and balance. He adjusts to the ball in the air which is such a dangerous weapon, because he can catch a ball 11 feet off the ground with his size and leaping ability. I’ve been doing this a long time and he’s the best receiver prospect from Georgia that I can think of off the top of my head since Calvin Johnson.”
Johnson is now an elite receiver in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, following a standout career at Georgia Tech. He played his high school football at powerhouse Sandy Creek in Tyrone.
Williams will not dispute any notion that he is the best in the country.
“I know I’m the best,” he said. “I’m just doing what I can to help my team win. I have to step up in every game. I have to do what I have to to help us get back to the state title game. It is good to be recognized as the best. I just have to continue to work hard to maintain that status.”
Williams has also turned the heads of his teammates with his spectacular plays in games and practice.
“He is a special player,” said senior Jeremiah Kirkland, the team’s leading rusher. “He is one of those players that make special plays.”