DALLAS -- The linebacker tradition at Skyline High School runs deep. In the last seven seasons, Skyline has sent 10 linebackers to FBS programs, most recently outside linebacker Domenic Spencer, who signed with Central Florida on Thursday.
Middle linebacker Isaiah Williams hopes to be next and have a signing ceremony in February 2013.
Williams, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound junior, looked at Spencer's ceremony in two ways -- an opportunity to celebrate a teammate's dream and the official beginning of his chance to lead the defense.
"I see Spencer and everyone else, and I look it as me only being a year from that point," Williams said. "It didn't really hit me until I saw all of them sign. It's now my time to shine."
"We felt like we had to have a veteran. That middle linebacker spot is for a man," Samples said. "On the field, he's the bully, the leader, the intimidator. [Williams] is that guy. On top of that, he was adamant about us giving him the chance to do that."
Williams was a reserve linebacker as a sophomore, playing behind Anthony Wallace, who just finished his freshman season at Oregon. Williams has heard the stories about several big-name linebackers who came through the program -- from Corey Nelson, now a sophomore at Oklahoma, to the intimidating trio of Alfred Dupree (Oklahoma State), Keanon Cooper (Minnesota) and Spencer Reeves (Minnesota) -- back when he was in middle school.
Of all those players, Williams most closely resembles Wallace from a physical standpoint, and Wallace served as a mentor to Williams at the position.
"He was my biggest role model. I still talk to him today," Williams said. "I always ask what he did to be so great. He said he ran, stayed the weight room hard, knew the playbook inside and out and studied film.
"When I first got here, it was pressure, but growing up and seeing what the great linebackers did, I see that this is easy if I do what they did. I see guys like Corey Nelson, Anthony Wallace and Nigel Robertson, and being next in line, I feel I can fill those shoes -- maybe even bust them."
It's obvious he is willing to put the work in to make that happen. He improved his bench press to 300 pounds, and his squat maximum is now at 405. On the field, he brings quickness off the line of scrimmage and impressive athleticism and agility.
Williams is getting more and more looks from colleges as the spring progresses. He currently has offers from SMU, Kansas State and Colorado, and Skyline recruiting coordinator Jason R. Garrett said schools such as Texas A&M and Baylor are keeping a close watch on him.
Look for Williams to be even more in demand next month. He will attend Kansas State's junior day on March 3, and he will attend the Nike Football Training Camp at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility in Irving, Texas, on March 25.
"He's going to be a guy who blows up quickly," Garrett said. "He's a humble kid who's developing his work ethic. He's a coachable young man, and he's accepted the challenge of carrying that mantle that's been set forth in front of him by the kids who came before him."
Samples added: "At the end of the day, it all is going to come down to what he does on the field. The thing I'm impressed with is his attitude. He wants to be the man, so we're going to give him the keys and let him drive."
For Williams, confidence -- not to be mistaken for cockiness -- will be everything next season. He plans on playing with the same swagger as his linebacker predecessors, which he hopes will parlay into him being the 11th Skyline linebacker in eight seasons to play for an FBS program.
"I feel I can be a Patrick Willis type of guy," Williams said. "I can come downhill and hit you. I can cover any slot. I can get real nasty, real grimy. When I'm on the field, I feel I'm the man in the Dallas area, and I have to show that every time.
"That's what the linebackers before me did."
Damon Sayles covers Midlands recruiting for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSayles