ATHENS, Ga. -- Stanley Williams knew he belonged in Sanford Stadium.
"He held his hands up and he looked up towards heaven and said 'This is my home,'" recalled Williams' mother, Darlene. "He claimed it and he had faith."
One might think that happened during Friday evening's Dawg Night football camp. Nope, that happened when the now rising sophomore was just 13 years old. Then, the Bethlehem (Ga.) Apalachee tailback was far from a top-flight college prospect. He was working the Sanford Stadium concession stands for his church group.
I accepted on the spot. He told me that I was a great player. Stay humble. Keep working hard and just stay focused. He told me that I officially had a scholarship from the Georgia Bulldogs. Right after that I accepted the scholarship and committed.
”-- Class of 2014 RB Stanley Williams
Williams, now 16, made good on that declaration Friday evening when he committed to Georgia's 2014 class immediately after an offer from coach Mark Richt. Williams selected Georgia over a dozen other schools, including Clemson, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.
"I accepted on the spot," Williams said. "He told me that I was a great player. Stay humble. Keep working hard and just stay focused. He told me that I officially had a scholarship from the Georgia Bulldogs. Right after that I accepted the scholarship and committed."
Despite the quick turnaround, Williams' decision wasn't made in haste. Williams said Georgia's coaches hinted that he might receive a scholarship offer during Friday's camp, so the 5-foot-8, 175-pounder was prepared. He discussed the decision with his family and, along with four other commitments during the camp, made Richt's night.
"Excited," Williams said of Richt's response to his commitment. "Very excited."
Williams' father, mother and sister were right there during the exchange with Richt. They were clad in Georgia apparel and flabbergasted when faced with the reality of the situation.
"When Richt told him, I just fell down flat on my back," Williams' father, Stanley Williams Sr., said.
With three seasons of high school football remaining, the key is for Williams to stay grounded. His father isn't worried about that.
"He's a very intelligent young man," Williams Sr. said. "He knows he has to finish his high school career. He's going to stay focused on his high school career."
While 13 may seem young for a college prospect, Williams actually began preparing for college football long ago. Williams' godfather and trainer, Terrence Stover, was there when it all happened.
"When he was 9 years old he was crying after a football game and I said 'Why are you crying?'" said Stover, who works for TNT Explosive Advantage.
Williams said he was upset over a bad season. The failures ignited a fire under him.
"Since then it's been simply lights out," Stover said. "He's been a beast since he was a young kid. He pulls sleds, runs stadium steps, separate from what he does at school. He'll do his school work then comes out there and does extra work."
Williams rushed for 1,000 yards as a freshman after gaining 2,500 yards in eighth grade. Stover said the training regimen has been the difference.
"He works really hard," Stover said. "He works three times a week extra. He eats like an offensive lineman."
Williams' hard work was evident during testing at Dawg Night when he ran a blistering 4.28 40-yard dash.
"They were just shocked," Williams said of Georgia's coaches. "The last time I came to Mark Richt's camp, I was at a 4.38."
There were plenty of reasons for Williams to choose Georgia. He only lives 30 minutes from campus, likes the Bulldogs' offensive system and is obviously fond of Richt's coaching staff.
But in the end, Williams' decision was one made from the heart.
"I just love it," he said. "It's Georgia."
Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for over a decade. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.